12/19/2013 03:08 EST | Updated 02/18/2014 05:59 EST

Northern Gateway pipeline review to be released today

A National Energy Board decision on whether Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline will be recommended for approval will be made public this afternoon in Calgary.

Following more than a year of hearings in B.C. and Alberta, the federal review panel will recommend whether the project should be approved and the reasons behind its decision. It can also recommend conditions of approval for the project.

The final decision, however, rests with the federal government, which has 180 days to decide.

The $6.5-billion pipeline would take bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to the B.C. coast for tanker export to Asia. But the controversial proposal has pitted Calgary-based Enbridge against environmental groups and several First Nations.

The pipeline is also a lightning rod in the debate over climate change and has raised concerns about the effects an oil spill would have on environmentally sensitive areas along the B.C. coast.

The B.C. government had told the panel it did not support the pipeline as proposed, and more than 130 aboriginal bands signed a declaration against the project.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she hopes the panel endorses Enbridge's proposed pipeline as her province strives to diversify market access for the oilsands.

But other politicians are split on the outcome. Both the federal NDP and Liberals have voiced opposition to the project.