British Columbia

Enbridge Northern Gateway seeks 3 year extension

Two thousand people have weighed in with public comments as the National Energy Board prepares to rule on whether Enbridge Northern Gateway's approval permits will be extended for 3 years. If not, the project has to start construction before the end of the year, or lose its approval permits.

Without permit extension or construction start, Northern Gateway done by end December

Northern Gateway was approved in 2014, but now there's a new debate over whether Enbridge's controversial project should be granted a 3 year extension. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

Time is running out for Enbridge Northern Gateway. 

Approvals for the controversial pipeline project require construction to start by Dec. 31, 2016.

But those permits appear likely to expire — before any pipelines are built.

"Clearly, we're not focused on construction schedules and a construction start date," said Catherine Pennington, Senior Manager and ‎Director of Community Partnerships at Northern Gateway Pipelines in Prince George.

Enbridge wants time to 'build relationships'

"We've been focussing almost exclusively on building relationships with indigenous communities and we really need the time," said Pennington.

Pennington said Enbridge is busy trying to build local support to "build a better project."

"Really, right from the beginning, Northern Gateway should have done a better job of building relationships with indigenous, First Nations, Metis and Indigenous communities, particularly on the west coast, " she said.

Pennington also said Enbridge needs more time to "receive clarity on some outstanding legal and regulatory issues."

But opponents of Northern Gateway oppose an extension.

Enbridge's time is up. It's pretty clear communities have said, 'No.' — Nadia   Nowak , Sea to Sands 

'Enbridge's time is up'

"Enbridge's time is up," said Nadia Nowak, a community organizer with the Sea to Sands group in Prince George.

"It's pretty clear communities have said no to this project. We don't think they deserve any more of our time or energy,' said Nowak.

Nowak is one of more than 2,000 people who have mailed or faxed in letters of public comment to the National Energy Board as it considers Enbridge's extension request.

More than 2,000 people weighed in

"The response has been quite extraordinary," said Sarah Kiley, a communications officer with the National Energy Board. "We've received well over 2,000 letters of comment...to let us know what we should consider."

If the extension request is turned down, the Northern Gateway Project could be finished before it gets started.

"The certificates attached to this project would expire and the company would no longer have the approvals it needed to construct the project," said Kiley.

Now the National Energy Board — and ultimately Justin Trudeau's federal cabinet — will decide if the sun is setting on Northern Gateway or if Enbridge will be granted an extension to December 31, 2019. 

About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener is an award-winning journalist and author. She's been covering the news in central and northern British Columbia for more than 15 years.

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