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British Columbia Says It Can’t Back Northern Gateway

British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, said today it can’t support Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline because project plans fail to address the risk of spills on land or sea.

“Northern Gateway has presented little evidence about how it will respond in the event of a spill,” Christopher Jones, a lawyer representing the province, said today in a statement to the federal panel reviewing the project.

“It is not clear from the evidence that Northern Gateway will in fact be able to respond effectively to spills either from the pipeline itself, or from tankers transporting diluted bitumen,” Jones said in the statement.

Calgary-based Enbridge has proposed the C$6 billion ($5.8 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline to carry oil-sands crude from Alberta to Canada’s Pacific Coast. Environmental and some aboriginal groups oppose the 1,177-kilometer (731 mile) project because of the risk of spills.

New conduits from Canada are needed to correct a “huge disconnect” in North American oil prices as supply exceeds pipeline capacity, Enbridge Chief Executive Al Monaco said May 21 in Toronto. Western Canada Select oil was $19.25 a barrel less than benchmark West Texas Intermediate today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Canada’s National Energy Board regulator has until the end of the year to make a recommendation on Gateway.

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