Photos: The other battle for Canada’s oil sands

HOUSTON — As debate over the Keystone XL pipeline drags on in the United States, another contentious battle to move Canada’s oil sands crude to market hit a milestone last week.

The Canadian government conditionally approved Enbridge’s $6-billion proposal to build the Northern Gateway pipeline, challenging fierce  opposition from environmentalists and aboriginal groups who have staged sit-ins, marches and demonstrations against the project for years. 

Not over: Enbridge’s toughest Gateway Pipeline tests still to come

While Keystone XL proposes to carry Canada’s heavy crude south to the Gulf Coast, the Northern Gateway pipeline would connect the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast, where the crude could be shipped to the energy-hungry Asian market. 

It provides Canada with an alternative to the U.S. market, which has been pumping more of its own oil.

Check out the photos above to see how the battle over Northern Gateway has unfolded.