A Canadian governmental review panel approved a proposal from energy giant Enbridge on Thursday to soon begin construction of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, sparking outrage across the country and promises for further protests.
The pipeline has been the source of a large protest movement by environmental and indigenous rights groups throughout the year who say the pipeline will bring inevitable oil spills to pristine habitats and illegally encroach on First Nations’ lands.
The board’s decision does not immediately finalize the approval process, given the numerous conditions placed on the approval such as a requirement for Enbridge to have $950 million in liability coverage and “‘unfettered access’ to $100 million within 10 business days of a large spill from any component of the project,” the Montreal Gazette reports.
But the final approval of the pipeline, along with the panel’s required conditions, will now go to the Canadian Cabinet of the federal government, chaired by fossil fuel friendly Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which has six months to decide on the matter.
“If there ever was or could be a pipeline that the NEB could have turned away from on the basis of a social consensus of Canadians, surely Gateway was that pipeline,” writes Fred Wilson at Rabble.ca. “But the NEB has just proven that it cares not a whit about how Canadians define the public interest. The NEB really has only one constituency that it considers relevant; that being, of course, the oil and gas industry.”
However opposition groups vow that the fight against the tar sands pipeline is far from over.
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