UPDATE 1-Canada approves Enbridge pipeline to West Coast

Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:00pm EDT
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(Adds details on project and decision; comments from politicians, opponents)

June 17 (Reuters) - The Canadian government approved the construction of Enbridge Inc's C$7.9 billion ($7.22 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline on Tuesday, setting the stage for a flurry of lawsuits from opponents who object to the project on environmental grounds.

The approval of the proposed pipeline, which would link Alberta's oil sands with a Pacific port, is contingent on Enbridge meeting more than 200 conditions set out by a regulatory panel.

Those conditions include conducting more consultations with aboriginals living along the route, which will cross hundreds of kilometers of wilderness and mountain ranges, mostly in the Pacific province of British Columbia.

"After carefully reviewing the report, the government accepts the independent panel's recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines' proposal," Canada's Natural Resources minister Greg Rickford said in a statement. "Today constitutes another step in the process."

Aboriginal and environmental groups were quick to react to the decision, promising to bury the project in lawsuits and take direct action in the form of protests and blockades if needed.   Continued...