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Final hearings for Northern Gateway start today

Today marks the start of the final stage of public hearings in the Northern Gateway pipeline review.

Proponents and opponents of the project, which would see the construction of two 1,200-kilometre pipelines from near Edmonton to Kitimat, will make their final pitches to the federal review panel over the next two weeks.

However, as The Tyee's Geoff Dembicki pointed out in a recent Northern Gateway explainer, public engagement on the project truly began on Jan. 9, 2012 when federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver delivered an "open letter" to Canadians just as the first round of joint review panel hearings on the pipeline were set to begin.

Oliver decried the "environmental and other radical groups" that "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda."

Opposition to the project has come not from radical groups but from regular citizens.

At a public rally held yesterday in Terrace, B.C., among the 200 citizens who gathered to protest the project were a daycare supervisor and a retired oil industry workers.

Representatives from Enbridge, the company behind the pipeline, will be the first to present at this last round of hearings. The B.C. government is also scheduled to address the panel, although in May, it submitted its official position on the project, which was that it should not be approved as currently proposed.

The hearings wrap up on June 28, and the panel will issue a decision later this year.

Daily hearing updates can be found here.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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