Northern Gateway regulatory submissions reveal polarizing views of Alberta and B.C. – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – June 6, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In its last shot at defending the Northern Gateway pipeline, Enbridge Inc. says it has produced evidence to boot during the nearly completed regulatory review that the proposed project would generate enormous economic benefits for the country.

It says it would be built and operated safely, that it has sought and incorporated input from communities and aboriginals over the last decade, that it would be well prepared to deal with any oil spills and improve existing emergency response on Canada’s Pacific Coast.

“The design and construction … do not create new or novel challenges,” the Calgary-based pipeline company maintains in its 388-page final written argument.

“They were successfully faced by pipeline projects decades ago. In fact, some of the challenges were successfully met as long ago as the late 1800s when the Canadian Pacific railway was constructed through the Coast Mountains of British Columbia.”

It’s one of 40-plus final submissions from parties with an interest in the project to the Joint Review Panel of the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The panel is kicking off its last round of input – final oral arguments — on June 17 in Terrace, B.C.

Despite Enbridge’s forceful defense, in the toughest regulatory review ever conducted on an infrastructure project in Canada, the submissions reveal a polarization and hardening of views on the oil pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. Coast – Albertans are stacked in favour, and British Columbians are against it.

They suggest that even if Enbridge has every intention of building the safest oil pipeline that can be had in the world today, regulators will have a tough time deciding whose public interest prevails: Alberta’s urgent need for new markets for its oil-based economy, or British Columbia’s resolve that any risk is one too many for its environment.

Take the District of Fort St. James, in Northwest British Columbia, which is arguing for rejection.

“We rely on the land for our livelihoods and our quality of life. We are not the ‘radical environmentalists’ or advocacy groups that Northern Gateway opposition have been painted as in the media,” the community says. “A strong majority of people in our community are loggers, miners, carpenters, welders and machinists; we are industry workers who live in a resource-based local economy through which we have learned the value of sustainable industry practices. … We do not want to see temporary foreign workers brought in to work on a project which puts at risk the livelihoods of resident Canadians.”

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