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Is the Northern Gateway pipeline dead? Minister James Moore offers hints on government position

This is a guest post by Heather Libby.

Earlier today, British Columbia Environment Minister Terry Lake gave notice that the provincial government officially objects to Enbridge’s application for the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The rejection is not entirely out-of-the-blue. Even before her surprising electoral win, Premier Christy Clark made it clear that Enbridge would need to meet 5 distinct conditions before she would consider giving the province’s blessing to the project, including marine and land oil spill prevention and respect for First Nations treaty rights (although later in the campaign, First Nations ‘treaty rights’ morphed into ‘economic benefits’).

In their official statement, the BC government made it clear that the steps taken by Enbridge to date were not enough to meet those conditions:

“British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents. Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings. …Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered," said Minister Lake.

In a press scrum after the announcement, Federal Heritage Minister James Moore, the highest ranking Conservative in British Columbia, told CKNW980’s Shane Woodford that the Federal government agrees with BC’s five conditions, and acknowledges that public support is not behind the Enbridge project:

“We believe in waiting for the environmental assessment to come back and letting science drive this. As I said, the conditions the Premier has put forward, we agree with. These projects can't go forward without the public's support, and the public's support will never be behind these projects unless companies can demonstrate that they're being good stewards of the natural environment." 

Moore’s answer, while cautious, is surprising.

Last year the federal Conservative government included legislative changes in its omnibus budget implementation bill, Bill-C38, that gave cabinet power to override the National Energy Board on decisions regarding pipeline approvals and to order alternative environmental assessment processes.

In non-governmentese, that means the Harper Conservatives could choose to overrule BC’s objections to the project and allow it anyway. Moore’s comments today and their emphasis on public support do not seem to support that option, particularly since only 35% of British Columbians support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project application.

Time will tell if Minister Moore is forced to retract or ‘clarify’ his comments. 

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?
Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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