The Harper Conservative federal government has approved the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
However, there are 209 conditions that must be met in order to move Alberta oil to the Pacific coast at Kitimat, B.C. where it will be loaded onto tankers, although there has been some discussion in recent weeks to change the terminus port to Prince Rupert to avoid opposition.
It reaffirms last December’s approval by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which established the 209 conditions as a means of appeasing public concerns.
The privately funded $6.5 billion contract will open Alberta’s land-locked crude to Asian markets, a key way to increase its value. It also comes after delays in the United States to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline for American markets.
It will begin from Bruderheim, Alberta, just north of Edmonton, and continue on for 1,177 kilometres to the coastline with a bitumen capacity of 525,000 barrels of day within a 36-inch diameter pipe. The proposed Kitimat terminal will consist of two tanker berths, three condensate tanks and 16 oil storage tanks.
However, while final approval has been granted, there is still mounting environmental and aboriginal opposition to overcome: groups that have vowed to delay and disrupt the construction process, along with the promise of legal disputes before shovels go into the ground.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark has stated that the provincial government’s support for the project is based on the fulfillment of five conditions revolving around environmental concerns, aboriginal interests, and a fair fiscal and economic share for the province.
The federal government’s 209 conditions covered similar areas over environmental concerns, including the development of a marine mammal protection plan, caribou habitat restoration plan, training and education monitoring plan, enhance marine spill trajectory and fate modelling, and a research program on the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oils.
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