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Canadian regulator halts review of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipe project

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Canadian regulator halts review of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipe project

The National Energy Board has stopped reviews ofapplications related to EnbridgeInc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, including thecompany's request for an extension of the original license to build it, after afederal court quashed approval of the project.

"The NEB will also suspend its review of any filingsfrom Northern Gateway regarding compliance with the 209 conditions attached tothe project," the board said in a July 8 posting on its website. "TheNEB made these decisions in response to the June 23, 2016 Federal Court ofAppeal decision that quashed the certificates of public convenience andnecessity for the project and sent the matter back to the federal governmentfor redetermination."

The decision raises further doubt that the project, whichreceived the NEB's blessingin 2013, will be built. The appeals court ruled in June that Canada's previous Conservativegovernment, headed by Stephen Harper, failed in its duty to consult FirstNations groups before ratifying the NEB decision. The board pointed out that anumber of legal challenges to the processes used by its Joint Review Panel inthe Northern Gateway application were dismissed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the LiberalParty, which ousted Harper's government late in 2015, has said he opposesbuilding the line through the rain forests of northern British Columbia. To putthe project back on track, his government would have to conduct furtherconsultations with First Nations groups before approving it.

Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, submitted anapplication for an extensionof a so-called sunset clause in its approval to build Northern Gateway thatrequired construction to start by the end of 2016. In that application, thecompany said it had increased First Nations ownership in the project and wouldneed more time to start building the pipeline.

Northern Gateway was proposed as a two-line project thatwould carry 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day to British Columbia'snorthern coast from the oil sands region in Alberta. A smaller line wouldreturn diluent, a thinning agent that helps the tar-like bitumen flow, to oilsands shippers. The 1,178-kilometer line would terminate at a deepwater portnear Kitimat, British Columbia.