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Pipeline gets approval

The federal government is giving a conditional green light to Enbridge Inc.'s controversial $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project between the Alberta oilsands and the B.C. coast.

A joint federal review panel recommended approval of the 1,177-kilometre pipeline in December, with 209 conditions; the Conservative government has made it clear that finding new markets for Canadian oil is an economic priority.

The decision is contingent on Enbridge satisfying all 209 of those conditions and embarking on more consultations with affected aboriginal communities.

The project, which would move an estimated 525,000 barrels of petroleum products each day, still faces legal challenges from several First Nations and environmental groups.

Those include a half-dozen Federal Court applications for judicial review of the panel report. The Gitxaala and Coastal First Nations are also preparing broader lawsuits against either the federal government, Enbridge, or both.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark, meanwhile, has said the project does not meet the province's five conditions for its own approval of any oil pipeline, including aboriginal consultation and a "fair share" of revenues for the province.

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