Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Northern Gateway Project gains approval... construction process far from assured

“Today constitutes another step in the process. Moving forward, the proponent must demonstrate to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for regulatory permits and authorizations from federal and provincial governments. 

In addition, consultations with Aboriginal communities are required under many of the 209 conditions that have been established and as part of the process for regulatory authorizations and permits. 

The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route.” -- A portion of Tuesday's Announcement of Approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project by the Federal Conservative Government of Stephen Harper. 

The official nod of approval for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project was provided by the Federal Government on Tuesday afternoon ( a nod dependent on Northern Gateway proponents meeting the 209 Join Review Panel conditions), though considering the nature of previous Government announcements the work of the day wasn't exactly the thing of trumpets blaring.

The Northern Gateway approval was made in the middle of the afternoon by way of a short announcement on the Government website, with no follow up press conference and no Ministers available for talking points.

Contrast that to some of the past announcements by the Federal Conservatives with their Jobs for Canada banners and slick media presentations and the work of yesterday had the feel of one of those late Friday announcements. Something designed to bury the news that Governments are not too anxious to share with anyone.

However, with the media attention that has been provided to the topic, the Tuesday announcement delivered much opportunity for those in opposition to the project to share their thoughts and share they did.

From NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau the response was quick and focused on the theme that Government had made a bad decision and that they would choose a different path.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, spoke to the issue even before the announcement was made, rising in the House of Commons on Monday to try and sway the Government's decision.

Once the Conservatives made their announcement, the long standing opponent of all things Northern Gateway delivered his declaration of disappointment.  In scrum after scrum following Tuesday's announcement,  Mr. Cullen was the featured speaker on much of the national news networks coverage, with many reporters seeking his opinion on what he saw ahead for the Northern Gateway process.

Mr. Cullen also provided more on his position on the Northern Gateway approval through his website. Offering up his rallying cry for those that oppose Northern Gateway.

I truly believe this pipeline will never be built. I think the resolve and the passion of the people of the northwest will overcome it. The final decision on this project does not rest with Mr. Harper - it rests with the people who live here, and we will continue to stand together in opposing this bad project. -- Part of Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen's Northern Gateway statement

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice offered up a few thoughts on the topic of the day (brief as they were), she was quick to her twitter feed and facebook page following the announcement, highlighting her opposition to the path chosen by the Conservatives.

So, while the Federal Government gave the nod towards Northern Gateway the process of a pipeline ever getting delivered to the coast near Kitimat would seem still a far ways off, if ever delivered.

In the notice of approval, the need for Enbridge to meet the 209 conditions of the Joint Review Panel was mentioned frequently, something which no doubt many opponents will be marking down on a list, eager to remind the Government of any mis-steps along the way.

There are still the five conditions required by the Provincial Government and the need of Northern Gateway to provide a much better approach of engagement. Something that they weren't very good at in the preamble to the Northern Gateway proposal.

Mary Polak, British Columbia's Minister of Environment, addressed that aspect of the work ahead in a statement issued shortly after yesterday's Federal announcement.

“Today’s decision from the federal government is not a surprise, given their regulatory responsibilities and the recommendation from the Joint Review Panel. "However, our position on the Northern Gateway Pipeline is unchanged. Northern Gateway still has a lot of work to do to meet British Columbia’s five conditions. "So far, this project has only met B.C.’s first condition - the successful completion of the federal environmental review process. "There are four more conditions set by B.C. that have not been met."  -- BC Environment Minister, Mary Polak on the Northern Gateway announcement of Tuesday.

There will be a Federal election in short order, with both opposition parties stating that they would stop the proposed pipeline in its tracks. Success today for Enbridge, could be followed by a reversal by the time they may be planning to put any shovel in the ground.

The debate over whether we should not be refining the product before shipment will also resume, which could change not only the dynamic of the Northern Gateway project, but shift any potential path of a pipeline and shipment terminal further to the west.

There remains strong opposition to the project among many First Nations and a range of communities across Northern British Columbia, as well opposition to the project remains task number one among environmentalists across the province.  With that, the prospect of further protest and a string of court cases to come will also provide the backdrop to the plans of Northern Gateway's proponents.

"Today, we unequivocally reject the Harper Government’s decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway tanker and pipelines project and First Nations will immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project." -- A portion of a Statement from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs regarding the Northern Gateway approval of Tuesday.

Considering the volume of opinion on the announcement and the vows to stop the project in its tracks, it would seem that like many contentious plans of the past, the path ahead suggests that the final word on Northern Gateway has not yet been delivered.

Some items of note from yesterday's approval notification can be found below:

CFTK-- Enbridge Says Project Approval is just One More Step in the Right Direction
CFTK-- Gitga'at First Nation Intends to Fight Feds Decision in Court
CFTK-- Harper Government Approves Northern Gateway, Subject to JRP Conditions
Terrace Standard-- Terrace Mayor says Pipeline project a threat to northern way of life
Terrace Standard-- Northwest leaders react to federal approval of Northern Gateway pipeline
Vancouver Sun-- Northern Gateway pipeline approved by Harper government
Vancouver Sun-- Doubts about Northern Gateway in two capitals
Vancouver Sun-- Northern Gateway: Approval unlikely to hurt Harper much when B. C. votes
Vancouver Province-- Federal OK to pipeline sets the stage for a classic B.C. style scrap
Victoria Times Colonist-- Despite OK, Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. coast still faces hurdles
Victoria Times Colonist-- Northern Gateway: "We will not let this be built" says Green Leader
Victoria News-- Conservatives walk fine line on Northern Gateway
Victoria News-- Northern Gateway: Just the Facts
VIctoria News-- Opponents gear up to battle Northern Gateway pipeline
CBC British Columbia-- Northern Gateway pipeline approved with 209 conditions
CBC British Columbia-- Northern Gateway: Ottawa's green light for Enbridge has many in B. C. seeing red
CBC British Columbia-- Northern Gateway pipeline's next battle is in the courts
Global New-- Enbridge's Northern Gateway: Things are about to get interesting
Globe and Mail-- Canadian Government approves Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway pipeline
Globe and Mail-- Northern Gateway blessing gets mixed, muted response in Asia
Globe and Mail-- For oil industry, the next battle over Northern Gateway looms large
National Post-- Northern Gateway pipeline approved by federal government with conditions
National Post-- Northern Gateway pipeline green-light has everything to do with our rocky relationship to the U. S.
The Tyee-- First Nations on Gateway: "When We Say No, We Mean It"
The Tyee-- Will Harper's "Yes" On Gateway Cost Him a Majority in 2015?
The Tyee-- BC's position on Northern Gateway "unchanged" enviro minister
Vancouver Observer-- Kitimat and First Nations react angrily to Northern Gateway's approval
Vancouver Observer-- Harper Government okays Northern Gateway, over intense BC opposition

Regular readers of our blog have been following the Northern Gateway discussion for a number of months now, you can access our archive on the topic here.

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