Panel backs Canadian oil pipeline to Pacific

TORONTO — A panel reviewing a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow Canada’s oil to be shipped to Asia is recommending the Canadian government approve the project.

The three-person review panel recommended approving the pipeline with 209 conditions Thursday.

Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said the government will thoroughly review it and consult with affected aboriginal groups before making a decision on the contentious pipeline.

There is fierce environmental and aboriginal opposition and court challenges are expected.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has staunchly supported the pipeline after the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would be laid from Alberta to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China.