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Opponents of Canada's Northern Gateway pipeline win first victory

15 April 2014

Residents of Kitimat, located in NW British Columbia, voted against the proposed Enbridge gas Northern Gateway pipeline project on April 12, with 58% of residents opposed in the non-binding poll. The town is where the terminal facilities for the C$7.9 billion pipeline would be built.

The vote came after a month of campaigning by both sides. Supporters pointed to the jobs and tax revenue that would be generated, while opponents cited their fears of an oil spill.
As with TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, environmentalists fear that Northern Gateway will hasten the development of Canada's oil sands and exacerbate climate change.

The line would be Canada's first major export route to the oil-hungry economies of Asia. It is backed by Canada's energy industry, which currently sells most of its oil to US buyers at a steep discount to benchmark prices.

Opponents of Northern Gateway will now push for a provincial referendum they hope will kill Enbridge’s plan once and for all.

Enbridge said after the vote said it would keep trying to win public support. For now, the future of the 1,177-kilometer (731-mile)pipeline is in the hands of the Canadian government, which has jurisdiction over the project.

Northern Gateway is expected to create 180 direct, permanent jobs in Kitimat, in addition to some 3,000 construction jobs along the right of way. Total municipal, provincial and federal tax revenues over 30 years are projected to be about C$2.6 billion.

Regulators in December recommended it be approved, contingent on Enbridge meeting 209 technical, environmental and social conditions. The government, which has the final say, is expected to make its decision in June, but even if the proposed pipeline is approved it will face lengthy legal battles from opponents.

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