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Northern Gateway: ‘We will not let this be built,’ says Green leader

British Columbians will stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, say both the federal Greens and NDP. “We will not let this be built. This is not acceptable,” said federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May photo
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

British Columbians will stop Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, say both the federal Greens and NDP.

“We will not let this be built. This is not acceptable,” said federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

“What’s between Enbridge and a shovel in the ground right now is British Columbians shoulder to shoulder with First Nations and we will say no and we will stop the project from going ahead through legal, peaceful means.”

The federal government gave a conditional green light Tuesday to the project, though it still faces legal challenges from several First Nations and environmental groups.

“This is not a moment for people to be discouraged or disappointed,” May said in a phone interview from Ottawa.

Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin said his party will fight the proposed pipeline in the courts and at the ballot box.

“B.C. won’t stand for this Ottawa-based decision,” said Rankin, an environmental lawyer.

“This is the fight of my life,” he said. “I am not going to give up on this. This is never going to be built.”

A National Energy Board joint review panel recommended approval of the 1,177-kilometre pipeline in December, if 209 conditions and consultations are satisfied.

The Conservative government has made it clear that finding new markets for Canadian oil is an economic priority.

But the Green party’s leader said the economic argument is false.

“The National Energy Board decision was so deficient,” May said.

“They didn’t do anything to challenge or provide any evidence for their big claim that this is in the national interest. It didn’t [provide] the economic evidence.

“It actually hurts our economy to ship out raw bitumen,” May said.

She noted the views of Victoria businessman David Black, who has talked about “how crazy it is that we want to put raw bitumen into a tanker.”

Black has set up a company that is seeking to build an oil refinery near Kitimat to refine crude oil shipped through the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

In the Northern Gateway proposal, one pipeline would carry an average of 525,000 barrels a day of petroleum products west to Kitimat.

The other pipeline would carry a daily average of 193,000 barrels of natural-gas condensate — used to dilute oilsands bitumen — east to Bruderheim, Alta., just north of Edmonton.

“I wish we had had the kind of informed scrutiny across Canada that people would understand this isn’t even in our economic interest and they are asking B.C. to take an unacceptably high risk with our natural environment, salmon, Great Bear Rainforest, coastlines, tourism and fisheries,” May said. “And on top of that, they are expecting First Nations will ignore their constitutionally enshrined rights and just say, ‘oh well, I guess we lost that one.’ ”

May and Rankin, both lawyers, said the ball is now in B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s corner.

The premier has said the project does not meet the province’s five conditions for its own approval of any oil pipeline, including aboriginal consultation and a “fair share” of revenues for the province.

“She has to start by saying, ‘You have not met our conditions,’ ” May said.

Rankin said he’ll be closely watching what the provincial government does next. “It is inconceivable that the province of B.C. will be on side with Mr. Harper’s decision today. They were so forceful in their opposition — what’s changed?” Rankin said.

charnett@timescolonist.com

— With The Canadian Press