Should Enbridge's proposed Alberta-B.C. oil pipeline go ahead?
Calgary-based Enbridge wants to build a pipeline that would carry heavy bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., from Bruderheim, Alta. (Enbridge)
First Nations leaders from British Columbia are scheduled to make an announcement Thursday about a proposed pipeline that would take Alberta oil to the northern coast of B.C.
Enbridge has proposed building the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline from Bruderheim, Alta., near Edmonton, to Kitimat, B.C., a coastal city with a deep-water port that could accommodate oil tankers transporting oilsands bitumen to Asian markets.
"Northern Gateway will link two of Canada's most important competitive strengths: our tremendous petroleum reserves and our Pacific advantage -- safe deepwater ports that are close to the growing markets of the Pacific Rim," said Janet Holder, Enbridge's executive vice-president of Western access, in August.
Environmentalists say the proposed route would take the pipeline through northern B.C. rivers and sensitive habitat.
In a report released Tuesday, Canada's Pembina Institute and the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council said a bitumen spill would devastate the ecosystem. It also says the treacherous northern B.C. coast would pose a risk to oil super-tankers navigating the Douglas Channel, increasing the risk of spills. And First Nations groups worry the pipeline will cause oil spills that will destroy rivers, fish and animals.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, meanwhile, says the pipeline will help Canada "increase its efforts to make sure it can supply its energy outside of the United States and into Asia in particular." (Currently, all of Canada's oil and gas exports currently go south of the border.)
Should the proposed Alberta-B.C. oil pipeline go ahead? Why or why not? Are environmental risks an appropriate trade-off for opening up new markets for Canada's petroleum? Let us know what you think.
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