Alberta to BC: Still want Northern Gateway ‘fair share’? Ask Enbridge

Alberta's energy minister Diana McQueen speaks at the TransCanada pipe yard for the Houston Lateral Project Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Mont Belvieu, Texas. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

B.C. Premier Christy Clark ruffled some feathers when she laid out five conditions for her province’s support of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

Most had to do with environmental protection, local communities and First Nations concerns. But the fifth was more pecuniary in nature: B.C. wanted its “fair share” of the billions the pipeline promised to produce over the course of its lifetime.

READ MORE: B.C.’s environment minister reacts to Ottawa’s Northern Gateway approval

Then-Alberta Premier Alison Redford was not impressed, and made it clear Alberta planned to hang onto its royalties.

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Energy Minister Diana McQueen echoed that sentiment Tuesday even as she enthused over Ottawa’s decision to greenlight Northern Gateway.

Her government’s happy to work with B.C. and the federal government on Clark’s first four conditions, she said. And while they haven’t yet been met, she said they’re “working on task and on target toward that.”

But as for the money side of things, “that’ll be something that Enbridge will have to do with regard to how that fifth condition works out.

“That’s something we’ve said and continue to say, that it won’t be part of the royalty of Alberta but it’ll be one the pipeline company of Enbridge will need to work out with the government of B.C.,” she said.

Enbridge didn’t immediately respond to a question about that arrangement Tuesday evening.

It isn’t clear what exactly a “fair share” would consist of – B.C.’s so far resisted putting a dollar figure on the amount it wants. It also isn’t clear what steps the province will take if it decides it ultimately opposes Northern Gateway: The pipeline’s under federal jurisdiction because it crosses provincial lines, so presumably once it fulfils the 209 conditions the Joint Review Panel set out – and if it emerges from a morass of lawsuits seeking to overturn both the review panel’s decision and the federal government’s approval – the pipeline project’s good to go.

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But from a practical perspective, Enbridge would still need building permits from the provincial government. B.C. denying those could slow things down, at the very least.

McQueen declared herself optimistic, however.

“I am thrilled about today’s announcement and our government fully supports and endorses the federal government’s position,” she told reporters. “We’ve been working on market access to the north, south east and west. This is a great step forward. … I am confident that this will go through.”

READ MORE: Enbridge’s donations to B.C. political parties

B.C.’s five conditions:

  • Successful completion of environmental review;
  • Better marine oil spill response;
  • Better land spill prevention, response and recovery;
  • Address legal requirements vis-a-vis First Nations;
  • That B.C. receive “a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” that reflects the risk the province is taking on.

READ MORE: B.C.’s full explanation of its conditions


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