09/07/2012 03:58 EDT | Updated 09/07/2012 04:02 EDT

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline: B.C. And Alberta Still Good Friends, Says Thomas Lukaszuk


Despite growing tension between Alberta and B.C. over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, relations between the two province are still going strong, a senior politician says.

There will always be topics where the two provinces disagree but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk told the Edmonton Sun amidst hearings into the pipeline currently underway in Edmonton.

“Are there certain files that arise from time to time where we simply choose to disagree? You bet, and that will always happen,” Lukaszuk told The Sun.

“But that doesn’t cast a shadow on our overall inter-provincial relations.”

Alberta has taken a beating over the nature of the oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline south of the border and is not new to being a champion of an industry maligned by environmental concerns but that powers the province’s economy.

However, the fever pitch opposition to the pipeline by the province’s western neighbour is new.

In the last few months environmental groups, First Nations and northern B.C. communities have raised the volume and scope of their rejection to the project by charging that oil spills are not just a possibility but, that after enough time passes, they’ll be a certainty.

Last month, B.C. Premier Christy Clark joined in the chorus saying that, under the current plan, the level of compensation does not meet the level of risk that B.C. will be saddled with.

B.C. will receive about $6 billion of an estimated $81 billion in tax revenue over the 30 years of the project. Ottawa is expected to receive about $36 billion and Alberta $32 billion.

The discourse took on a personal note when Alberta Premier Alison Redford answered her coastal counterpart by telling Clark to work for Canada not re-election.

But despite the verbal jousting, Lukaszuk told The Sun, “In general, our relations are really good."

The dual pipeline would see bitumen from the northern Alberta oil sands shipped across the rockies, through northern B.C. and on to Kitimat, where the liquid would be loaded onto tankers for export into energy-hungry Asian markets. Should one of the bitumen-fat tankers bobbing through the island-laden channels beyond Kitimat leak, the results would be catastrophic to the many fragile ecosystems in the area, critics say.

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