Terrace Standard

A plan by Skeena - Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen to host meetings featuring supporters and opponents to Enbridge’s planned $4.5 billion oil pipeline from Alberta to a marine export terminal at Kitimat has been cancelled.

Cullen said sessions featuring all sides of the pipeline debate made more sense than supporters and opposers having their own meetings.
But he now says Enbridge wanted to include all kinds of proposed industrial projects.

“Enbridge essentially sabotaged the process, put in a poison pill into our discussions at the eleventh hour,” Cullen said last week. “They said they didn’t want to talk about just them, they wanted to talk about every industrial application and project in the northwest at the same time. I didn’t think this was acceptable, because that’s not what we’d agreed to, it would muddy the waters for the public.”

Enbridge official Jennifer Varey said the company did meet with Cullen and other potential forum participants, and encouraged them to open the focus of the forums to include broader industry representation to help people understand how all the various projects work together.

“It was really so participants would get a look at all infrastructure developments in the area,” she said. The Enbridge list included potential plans by other companies to ship natural gas from terminals at Kitimat.

“We felt it would be more beneficial for participants to include those other projects in these forums,” she said.

Varey also said there’ll be plenty of opportunity for people to talk about the pipeline plan when the federal National Energy Board holds hearings to determine if the project should go ahead.

Enbridge is expected to file for environmental approval very soon for what would be the largest ever private sector project in B.C.

Opponents of the pipeline say the environmental risk from land or marine oil spills outweighs any economic benefit.

They’ve also focussed on the Alberta oil sands, from where the oil would be taken, as a prime contributor to global warming.

The project involves two pipelines, a large one to ship oil to Kitimat and a smaller one to transport an oil thinner called condensate from Kitimat to Alberta.

The dispute between Cullen and Enbridge is the latest in what has been a growing body of opposition to Enbridge’s plan. But it also promises to be just the first of many battles between supporters and opponents as Enbridge moves forward with its project.

Cullen, who has emerged as a leader of the anti-Enbridge movement, said he was disappointed by the company’s response. “We wanted a clear conversation around this proposal and this pipeline, and the company refused to,” Cullen said.

“The First Nations and environment groups said that they’re not interested in that either, and they’re not interested in going out on the road without Enbridge,” he continued.

“You know, we could have just gone out and embarrassed the company, frankly, and showed an empty chair, but I suspect this conversation will come back again. If Enbridge is still kicking around in the fall, they might concede to this very reasonable approach that we’ve suggested for more than a year.”

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