Northern Gateway pro and con

Peter Kent seems unswayed by official American criticism of an Enbridge oil spill in Michigan—though apparently he has yet to read the actual report in its entirety.

The report has provided fuel for critics of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project, which would carry crude oil along 1,170 kilometres of pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast. Even B.C.’s premier has demanded answers.

But the report won’t change the opinion of the federal Conservative government, which has hailed the Northern Gateway pipeline as important for the country, said Environment Minister Peter Kent. “Pipelines are still, by far, the safest way to transport petrochemicals in any form,” Kent said in an interview Wednesday.

Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith, on the other hand, is ready to consider alternative routes.

“I’ve heard that there are options that would go to the West Coast on a different route that might make more sense,” Smith told reporters during a break in the Wildrose caucus retreat in Chestermere. “There may have been in the past an easier time going through virgin territory,” Smith said. “But something’s changed in the last five years. Landowners are far more active and concerned, environmental groups are more active and concerned. First Nations are more active and vocal about it.”

Land-locked Alberta must get its oil to new markets, she said. But it makes sense to look at existing rights of way “so that we can have the least amount of environmental damage.”