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B.C. Orders Enbridge to Seek New Environment Certificate for Northern Gateway

Enbridge will have to secure an environmental assessment certificate from the B.C. government if it wants to proceed with its Northern Gateway oil pipeline according to an order issued by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office on Friday.
 
Early on in the Northern Gateway process, the B.C. government signed an “equivalency agreement” with the federal government, giving Ottawa the responsibility for the environmental assessment.
 
However, a Supreme Court of B.C. decision this January found that the B.C. government acted improperly and that the province must still make its own decision about issuing an environmental assessment certificate.

In a letter to Enbridge posted last week, B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office states that it will accept the National Energy Board’s (NEB) joint review panel report as the assessment report, but it will carry out its own consultation with Aboriginal groups — if and when Enbridge indicates it’s ready to proceed (it’s clear Enbridge must make a move here).

“The big open questions are what does consultation look like and how will that impact their decision?” said Eugene Kung, staff counsel at West Coast Environmental Law. “Are they just going through the motions to issue a certificate?”
 
The B.C. government formally opposed the project in its final argument to the NEB panel.
 
“How do they incorporate their own previously stated opposition to the project?” Kung asked. “It seems hard to imagine them issuing a certificate given their previously stated positions.”
 
The province’s letter states that no decisions will be made on any permit applications related to the construction or operation of Northern Gateway until a decision on the environmental assessment certificate has been made.
 
That calls into question the project’s existing federal environmental assessment certificate, which has several conditions attached including one that stipulates that Northern Gateway must have proven firm supply contracts accounting for 60 per cent of capacity by July 1, 2016. Further to that, Northern Gateway’s certificate will expire by December 31, 2016, unless it begins construction.  
 
While the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is widely seen as dead — with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising to legislate a ban on oil tankers on B.C.’s north coast — the latest news raises questions about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline proposal.
 
The province of B.C. signed the same equivalency agreement for the review of Trans Mountain, but will now need to make a decision on issuing its own provincial environmental assessment certificate and needs to consult with affected First Nations on that decision.
 
The province also opposed the Trans Mountain project in its final argument to the joint review panel.
 
Enbridge Northern Gateway would transport 525,000 barrels of bitumen per day from Alberta to Kitimat, where it would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia.
 
Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion would triple the capacity of that pipeline, allowing for the transport of 590,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Burnaby, where it would also be loaded onto tankers bound primarily for Asia.

Image: Mack Male/Flickr

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 this spring. 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 the 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. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. 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 this spring. 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 the 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. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. 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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