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National Energy Board sidestepping B.C. on Northern Gateway

Native drummers sing a song along with demonstrators standing outside the Joint Review Panel looking into the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Prince George, B.C., Oct. 9, 2012.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The National Energy Board is planning to bypass British Columbia as it unveils a long-awaited decision on whether it supports or opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline that will have a massive impact on the province.

The board plans to hold a media lock-up in Calgary, but does not have similar plans to brief reporters in British Columbia, says an official with the independent federal agency established to regulate international and interprovincial issues around the electrical utility, gas and oil sectors.

Board spokesperson Sarah Kiley said Thursday that the board recognizes there is an interest in B.C. in the subject, and said there is no final plan yet.

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The office of the B.C. Environment Minister declined comment on the situation, but the opposition environment critic said it was outrageous not to unveil the report in B.C.

"The risk of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline is B.C.'s. The biggest implications of approval are to B.C. and our coast," said Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver-West End).

He said the energy board should not be hiding out in Calgary when they announce what they are going to do, regardless of whether they approve or reject the project.

"You would think they would have the ability and respect for B.C. to host it here and explain whatever decision they make here to B.C. media and intervenors," he said.

"We're worthy of that respect."

Gateway is a 1,177-kilometre pipeline that would bring oil-sands bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. for shipment to Asia. The board is expected to release its report on the $6.5-billion project by the end of 2013, setting the stage for a federal cabinet decision on the project next year.

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About the Authors
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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