Clark declined offer for Northern Gateway meeting: Enbridge
BC premier wants a greater share of economic benefits from the pipeline.
VANCOUVER — While the BC government remains locked in a dispute with neighbouring Alberta over revenues from the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, the province has declined offers from Enbridge to discuss benefits.
Al Monaco, chief executive officer of the Calgary-based company, said the $6-billion pipeline is a strategic development for all of Canada.
BC is “quite legitimately” insisting on criteria such as First Nations involvement and environment safety before it will approve the project, he said, but so far has not requested a meeting with Enbridge about concerns over the revenues and potential benefits of the pipeline. In fact, Monaco said the province has turned down the company’s offers for discussions.
“My understanding it that it’s not their desire to meet with us at this point in time, but we remain open to sitting down with the premier, as we would other members of the government or, frankly, whomever we need to,” Monaco said.
There are many benefits to BC from the project, Monaco said: it would be the largest energy project in BC history and would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in spinoffs, taxes and jobs.
“As to whether or not there are any additional benefits beyond that, that’s something that the governments I know are, hopefully, discussing now or in the future. We would certainly be glad to be sitting at the table in that discussion but at this point we haven’t seen that opportunity,” Monaco said.
Premier Christy Clark has outlined five criteria that must be met before BC will allow construction of the pipeline to deliver diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to a tanker port proposed for Kitimat, BC, to transport crude to Asian markets.
The project faces opposition due mostly to the risk of a spill on land or from the tankers off the BC coast, and Clark has said the project must include world-leading response plans for a marine or land oil spill. It must also address aboriginal and treaty rights and include First Nations participation.
Monaco said he believes Enbridge can deliver on those demands.
But Clark said BC also must get a greater share of the fiscal and economic benefits from the pipeline than is currently on the table, to reflect the greater risk to the environment for the westernmost province.
Alberta says sharing royalties from the project is a non-starter, and Clark has responded by suggesting BC could withhold hydro and regulatory approvals to press the issue.
Clark was not immediately available to comment, but her spokesman, Mike Morton, said it would be inappropriate for the premier to meet with Enbridge officials until the review on the proposed pipeline is complete.
Morton said this discussion has to take place between BC, Alberta and the federal government.
Clark reiterated in a speech to the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy on Tuesday that BC could make things difficult for the project.
“British Columbia has the power to grant or withhold 60 permits,” she said.
“British Columbia’s power would be required to power up the pipeline from BC Hydro, a Crown corporation. There’s a whole number of things the British Columbia government could do and certainly if this project was forced through without meeting the five conditions, it wouldn’t be just the British Columbia government that would be in court. It would be every First Nation across the line.”
The project is currently undergoing a joint environment assessment review. That panel has until the end of 2013 to complete its report and recommendations.
© 2012 The Canadian Press