* Canada, Alberta counting on pipeline to boost exports
* BC residents worried about environmental impact
* Enbridge says still expects to meet B.C. conditions
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, May 31 (Reuters) - The government of British Columbia said on Friday it cannot support construction of Enbridge Inc’s C$6 billion ($5.8 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline project because it believes the company has not adequately spelled out how it would respond to oil spills from the line.
In its final written submission to the Joint Review Panel charged with recommending whether the project should proceed, the province’s Liberal government said Enbridge’s response plans for land and marine spills from the line which will carry 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude from Alberta to the port of Kitimat, have not yet been firmed up.
Northern Gateway “should not be (approved) on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning once the (approval) is granted,” the province said in its submission. “The standard in this particular case must be higher ... ‘Trust me’ is not good enough in this case.”
The pipeline is a key plank of efforts by the federal and Alberta governments to promote oil exports to Asia as a way to boost economic activity and create jobs. But the project has been stiffly opposed by environmentalists and aboriginal communities along the line’s route because of fears that oil spills would contaminate northern British Columbia’s rivers and coastline.
World-leading oil-spill response and clean-up systems were among five conditions British Columbia Premier Christy Clark demanded last year before the province would approve any heavy oil pipelines across its territory. The province does not believe that bar has been met.
However Enbridge said it still expects to be able to meet Clark’s conditions and that the province’s rejection of the project is premature.
“The five conditions cannot be fully met until the end of the Joint Review Panel process,” Janet Holder, Enbridge’s executive vice-president, western access, said in a statement. “We are working hard to meet the conditions and earn the confidence of the government and the people of B.C.”
Friday was the final day for written submission to the Joint Review Panel which will decide if the project should be approved. The final hearings for the project begin on June 17.
Enbridge shares were down 31 Canadian cents to C$44.93 by late afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.