British Columbia

Rachel Notley's NDP win puts future of Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in question

The future of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is being questioned in the aftermath of Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP's historic win.

Oil industry hopes to find 'common ground' with premier designate on pipeline projects

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks on stage after being elected Alberta's new Premier in Edmonton on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The NDP has won a majority in Alberta by toppling the Progressive Conservative colossus that has dominated the province for more than four decades. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The future of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is being questioned in the aftermath of Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP's historic win.

In the lead-up to her election victory, Notley promised to take a hands-off approach to Northern Gateway — a departure from the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta's strong support for the project.

In an interview with the Calgary Herald, Notley said Northern Gateway is "not the right decision."

"I think there's just too much environmental sensitivity there and I think there's genuine concerns by the indigenous communities, but I think from an environmental point of view, it's a problem and I think B.C.'s made itself very clear on that," she said in the interview, published last Monday.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan — an opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline — said he believes Notley's win makes the project less likely to succeed.

"Regardless of our political stripes, we have a real friend now in power in Alberta," he said.

But Wenran Jiang, who worked as a senior energy advisor to the Alberta government under the Progressive Conservative government, said he expects the NDP will be "cautious" in its next move — and won't kill the controversial project.

"It doesn't mean Gateway is totally dead. It just changes how Enbridge can play it out with less support at the provincial level," he said.

"We have the National Energy Board's approval. I believe the federal government is still strongly behind Gateway. I would say that given the very neutral, moderate nature of Rachel Notley herself as displayed in this election campaign, she may well say the government will not exhaust its resources to support Northern Gateway, but if it does go ahead it's all good for Alberta."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said it looks forward to sitting down with Notley in the coming days to hash out the foundation of Alberta's new policies around energy — which it said will include a push for Northern Gateway.

"We believe that we can sit down with Ms. Notley and her government and find common ground to protect jobs in the oil and gas industry and one of the ways that we can do that is to build increased market access," said spokesperson Jeff Gaulin.

Notley has said the proposal for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline — which runs from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. — is "worthy of discussion," because the route of the pipeline has already been established.

In her platform, Notley also showed support for refining oil within Canada, and promised to review oil royalties.

Enbridge declined the CBC's request for an interview.


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