Panel supports Northern Gateway pipeline

A review panel is recommending that the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would connect the Alberta oilsands to tankers on the B.C. coast go ahead.

CALGARY — A review panel is recommending that the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would connect the Alberta oilsands to tankers on the B.C. coast go ahead.

But the panel has attached 209 conditions to the project, which cover everything from protecting caribou habitat to research into how diluted bitumen would behave in a marine environment.

The controversial proposal has pitted Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) against environmental groups and several First Nations, who have raised concerns about potential oilspills on land or in the water.

The panel says any environmental effects can be mitigated effectively if its conditions are met.

Supporters say the pipeline is critical if Alberta is to get its oil to emerging markets in Asia.

The report says that opening up that market is important to the Canadian economy and the benefits far outweigh the risks.

The final decision rests with the federal government, which has roughly six months to respond to the report.

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