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BC, Alberta premiers reach truce over pipelines

The premiers of British Columbia and Alberta say they have reached a truce over pipelines.

Christy Clark and Alison Redford today announced an agreement that will see the two provinces work together to export crude through B.C. to new markets.

As part of the deal, Redford has accepted B.C.'s "five conditions" for the approval of heavy oil pipelines.

Implemented last year in response to growing public opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, those conditions include a successful completion of the National Energy Board environmental review process, "world-leading" marine and land spill response plans in place, adequate consultation with and respect for the treaty rights of First Nations, and a "fair share" of economic benefit for B.C. that reflects the degree of risk borne by the province over particular projects.

The final fair share condition has been a bone of contention between the two premiers. Early on, Alberta firmly struck down any notion it would share oil revenues with its neighbour.

Today the premiers announced that while B.C. "has a right" to negotiate with industry for some share of benefit for the province, "it is not for the governments of Alberta or B.C. to negotiate these benefits." Alberta's oil royalties are still not on the table for negotiation, they said.

In return for Redford's approval of B.C.'s five conditions, Clark agreed to sign Alberta's national energy strategy. But one B.C. advocacy group was quick to point out that approval "signifies little."

"[Redford] has nothing to do with the satisfaction of the five conditions -- she has put no money on the table," said Karen Wristen of Living Oceans Society in a statement today.

Clark's signature on the energy strategy is "equally meaningless," Wristen said. "From our perspective, it is a stunning public relations document whose vision is so far from Alberta's reality that it is difficult to see anyone placing any credence in it."

Robyn Smith is an editor at The Tyee.

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