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Province rejects Northern Gateway pipeline

THE B.C. government has recommended rejection of the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline project its final written submission to the federal environmental panel.

Environment Minister Terry Lake announced the decision today, two weeks after an election where pipeline politics played a key role. He said the B.C. government isn't satisfied with the company's plans for spill control on the twin pipeline proposed to run from northern Alberta to a tanker port at Kitimat.

"Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases," Lake said. "However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond."

Lake said any heavy oil proposal would be subject to the B.C. government's five conditions, which include spill prevention and response, aboriginal participation and a share of oil export revenues for B.C.

Enbridge Northern Gateway vice-president Janet Holder said the province's position is not the end of the discussion.

"The five conditions cannot be fully met until the end of the Joint Review Panel process," Holder said. "We are working hard to meet the conditions and earn the confidence of the government and the people of B.C."

Ministry staff evaluated the 192 conditions proposed by the Joint Review Panel, the federal agency that will make a recommendation for permits to Ottawa next fall. The B.C. government and Northern Gateway officials will give their final oral arguments to the panel when hearings resume in Terrace on June 17.

Enbridge has argued that its submissions to the federal panel included 7,000 pages of technical reports and nine separate witness panels have answered every environmental question put to it. The panel has conducted 69 days of cross-examination of company officials by B.C. and other representatives.

Lake said the B.C. government is not opposed to heavy oil pipeline projects in general, such as the pending application to twin the 60-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to port and refinery facilities in Burnaby and Washington state.

Skeena NDP Nathan Cullen also released his final submission today in which he has repeated his previous opposition to the Northern Gateway plan.

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