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Opponents to the Enbridge pipeline hold signs in downtown Kitimat, B.C. on June, 17. Opponents to the Enbridge pipeline hold signs in downtown Kitimat, B.C. Tuesday, June, 17, 2014. The federal government is expected to announce later Tuesday their decision on whether the Northern Gateway pipeline will be allowed to go ahead. The pipeline, once built, would bring oil from Alberta to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast to be loaded on tankers and shipped around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Opponents to the Enbridge pipeline hold signs in downtown Kitimat, B.C. on June, 17. Opponents to the Enbridge pipeline hold signs in downtown Kitimat, B.C. Tuesday, June, 17, 2014. The federal government is expected to announce later Tuesday their decision on whether the Northern Gateway pipeline will be allowed to go ahead. The pipeline, once built, would bring oil from Alberta to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast to be loaded on tankers and shipped around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
(JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Withholding construction permits could yet block Northern Gateway

One way British Columbia could stop the Northern Gateway pipeline is to withhold construction permits that must come from several ministries, but civil servants operating at arm’s length from politicians make those calls.

The litmus test for approving or denying permits at such ministries as environment, forests, lands and natural resources and transportation is whether granting them would lead to environmental harm.