Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings continue in Edmonton

Hearings dealing with the Northern Gateway Pipeline continued in Edmonton, Saturday, and for the first time backers of the project were given the chance to cross examine those opposing it.

The pipeline would run nearly 1,200 kilometres from Bruderheim to Kitimat, on the BC coast. The project would allow bitumen to be sold to Asian markets.

Over the past few weeks, groups opposed to the pipeline have been voicing their concerns to an independent joint review panel. Among them, the Alberta Federation of Labour, which contends the project would move jobs out of the province.

"Our concern is that once it's built, it will become a bitumen superhighway, taking not only raw bitumen from the oil sands out of the province to places like China and the United States, but along with that bitumen we're afraid that it's also going to transport literally tens of thousands of jobs in upgrading and refining," said Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"The project doesn't preclude refining. We will be able to move synthetic or diluted bitumen, or more conventional oil, so there's nothing to prevent refining from happening. Certainly the very value is in accessing large markets and if refining proves profitable or economic at some point, we can certainly move those products as well," explained John Carruthers, President of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.

The independent panel is set to make its decision on whether the pipeline should go ahead by December 2013. While the panel's input will carry weight, the final say goes to the Federal Cabinet. It's decision is expected in the summer of 2014.

Global Edmonton, Sat Sept 22 2012

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