The Northern Gateway Pipelines project drew more attention from the Canadian public than most in recent Canadian history.
Northern Gateway has proposed to construct and operate an oil pipeline, a condensate pipeline, associated facilities, two tunnels, powerlines, multiple pump stations, a land tank terminal, and a marine transportation terminal to be located near Kitimat, British Columbia. Not since the Canadian Pacific Railway has a project raised the interest of Canadians.
The regulatory review and assessment process for Northern Gateway was extensive. The Canadian government established a Joint Review Panel to preside over the assessment and review process. To ensure that stakeholders and potentially affected aboriginal communities were heard, the Panel embarked on an extensive public hearing and consultation program. They received thousands of letters of interest, and 4,300 requests for public statements. The Panel heard from approximately 1,200 registered participants in 19 locations. The regulatory hearings spanned a period from September 2012 to June 2013.
Opposition to the project stemmed primarily from concerns about the effect of oil spills on freshwater and marine environments and human use. Others were concerned about the expanded development of oil sands.
The environmental assessment undertaken by Northern Gateway was extensive, as was the mitigation proposed by the project to avoid or minimize environmental effects resulting from the project. The project incorporated new and innovative approaches to minimize environmental effects. The paper introduces the project and the latter part discusses the extraordinary measures proposed and undertaken to minimize potential risks to the environment.