ENBRIDGE MUST be wondering why its Northern Gateway pipeline plan has become such a pitched battle for approval when another energy export project in the region has emerged unscathed.
After all, the Pacific Trails pipeline and accompanying liquefied natural gas plant involves billions from large corporations, large tankers plying their way through north coast waters to and from Kitimat, a pipeline going through the same geography as would Northern Gateway and a valuable energy resource headed overseas to customers who may not have the most pristine of democratic practices.
One reason is First Nations acceptance. The liquefaction plant, for example, will be built on Haisla land and the Haisla will reap revenues.
It’s a given in B.C. that no major project will be developed without aboriginal acceptance and without an aboriginal economic benefit.
Another is the product itself. Oil is a sticky pollutant, affixing itself equally to animals, birds and shoreline. Natural gas, by contrast, will quickly dissipate and is viewed as less of an environmental threat.
Enbridge keeps saying it has more than 22 First Nations equity partners in Northern Gateway. It had better start trundling them out if it wants this project to survive.
And it had better hope the technical aspects of its project are in top form as the federal review panel moves to the next phase of its work.