Canada's regulator recommended Thursday that the government approve a proposed pipeline to the Pacific coast amid strong opposition by environmentalists and indigenous people who hold title to some of the land the pipeline would cross.
The Joint Review Panel of energy and environmental officials spent two years canvassing opinions along the 731-mile route of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would be used to export oil from Canada’s tar sands to Asia.
"We are of the view that opening Pacific Basin markets is important to the Canadian economy," the panel's report says. "We find that the environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated."
The fear of oil spills is especially acute in the pristine northwestern corner of British Columbia, with its snowcapped mountains and deep ocean inlets. Many Canadians living there still remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.