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BC's position on Northern Gateway 'unchanged': enviro minister

B.C.'s environment minister says the province's position on the Northern Gateway pipeline remains "unchanged," despite the conditional approval granted by the federal government today.

In a press conference today, Minister Mary Polak also noted the decision was not a surprise.

The National Energy Board Joint Review Panel's recommendation that the project proceed meets the first condition Premier Christy Clark has set out for heavy oil pipelines in B.C., said Polak. "There are four other conditions set by British Columbia that have not been met."

The other four conditions are world-leading marine oil spill practices, world-leading land oil-spill practices, addressing First nations legal rights and ensuring B.C. sees a fair share of the economic benefits from the project reflecting the province's risk.

Clark has repeatedly said that all five conditions must be met in full, said Polak.

Responding to charges from the NDP that the government is hiding behind the five conditions to avoid taking a firm position on Northern Gateway, Polak said, "We've taken a firm position on this pipeline, and Kinder Morgan, right from the beginning."

Any pipeline through B.C. would need some 60 permits authorized under a dozen or so provincial acts, including The Land Act, The Forest Act, The Water Act, The Wildlife Act, The Industrial Roads Act and The Environmental Management Act.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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