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Clark to meet Redford to discuss Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

Photo from BC government

Premier Christy Clark is heading to Calgary today to speak with Alberta Premier Alison Redford about environmental concerns over Enbridge's controversial proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

Redford and Clark have been in disagreement over the six-billion dollar project.

Clark told MPs on Friday she will demand that environmental issues be resolved before Enbridge can proceed with its twin pipeline carrying diluted oil sands bitumen and condensate from Alberta to the West Coast.

A 'fair share' of Northern Gateway  profits

Clark has focused her argument on a "fair share" for BC, saying British Columbians need a greater share of the revenues Alberta will earn in order to offset the environmental risk that the Northern Gateway pipeline poses to BC's coast.

According to Environment Minister Terry Lake, BC would get just eight per cent of the pipeline revenue while assuming all of the marine risk for the port terminal and tanker traffic on the West Coast, and nearly 60 per cent of the land-based risk for the pipeline. 

Clark has also included in her five requirements for Enbridge Northern Gateway the issue of addressing aboriginal and treaty rights, ensuring that First Nations have opportunities, information and resources to participate in the bitumen pipeline project.

A significant number of First Nations groups, however, have said the issue is not about money, and that they would reject the pipeline over environmental concerns.  

"First Nations right across BC have vowed we will never allow Enbridge's pipeline and tankers, and non-Natives are united with us in a growing groundswell of unity to protect all of us from oil spills," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in July, adding that Clark should take "decisive action" in opposing heavy oil pipeline and tanker projects.

Redford's stance unchanged

Redford, meanwhile, has maintained her stance that BC won't be getting a larger share of the royalties.

"The only thing that we have said, and that we continue to say, is that our position hasn't changed and royalties that are being paid to Albertans are not on the table and we won't discuss that," Redford told reporters last week.

Clark's offer to meet Redford has received a chilly response among some media in Alberta. 

In a Calgary Herald blog post titled "Alison Redford should tell Christy Clark: 'I see little point in meeting'", writer David Marsden noted that Redford shouldn't meet with Clark unless she changed her mind about "trying to blackmail Alberta" over the pipeline. 

Environmental concerns

One of the main concerns regarding the environmental impact of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is that the oil that would be transported is heavy oil, which resulted in an $800 million to clean-up during Enbridge's 2010 onland spill in Michigan. 

"Neither the government, nor the industry, has any idea how to actually deal with heavy oil spills," renowned environmental activist and author Tzeporah Berman told The Vancouver Observer earlier this year. 

"The fact is, we know that bitumen sinks, and they don't yet know how to deal with that in a marine environment. So [Enbridge's] claims that they can create world class standards, that they can ensure that the British Columbia environment and coast is protected, are simply false." 

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