Cenovus, Suncor to make their case for Northern Gateway

Controversial pipeline wouldn't be operational until 2018 if it's approved.

TERRACE, BC – The panel weighing the future of the Northern Gateway pipeline will hear today from industry players who support the project.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and Enbridge’s partners in the project, including Cenovus and Suncor Energy, are scheduled to make their final arguments to the federal panel hearing in Terrace, BC.

A BC government lawyer addressed the panel, saying the project should not be approved as proposed.

“Given the unique challenges of this pipeline, including the real challenges of responding effectively to a spill from either the pipeline or a tanker, Northern Gateway must be able to show that the mitigation it has put forward will be effective,” Christopher Jones told the panel. “The province submits it has not done so.”

Outside the hearings, former BC Liberal cabinet minister Geoff Plant, who is leading BC’s legal team at the hearings, said the evidence put before the panel doesn’t meet the province’s standards.

“Northern Gateway is going to have to do something more, something better, somewhere else, to do that,” he said.

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Plant said the province is asking that the project not receive approval, but it has put forth several conditions should the panel decide to give it a green light.

For its part, a lawyer for the company told the panel it agreed with most of those conditions.

“I do think it’s good that there’s some congruity on the general conditions. It shows that Northern Gateway is currently trying to raise the bar, and willing to meet a high bar, even though we don’t think that they’re there yet,” Plant said.

Northern Gateway lawyer Richard Neufeld told the panel the project is worth billions of dollars and is in the interest of all Canadians.

As for the province’s concerns about the lack of proof that the company’s spill response will be all that is promised, he said detailed operational plans are unnecessary and counter-productive at this point in the process.

The pipeline, if approved, wouldn’t be operational until 2018, Neufeld told the panel.

“There was and there remains ample time to develop detailed operational-response plans that will be second to none,” he said. “This is not a case of putting off until tomorrow what you can do today. It’s a case of developing operational plans in an orderly, organized manner … This is an ongoing process.”

Dozens of opponents and supporters of the project are scheduled to appear over the next two weeks.

©The Canadian Press