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On June 25, under the fluorescent lights of a Best Western ballroom in Terrace, British Columbia, Dentons’ Richard Neufeld made a last pitch for his client. More than a decade had passed since the Calgary-based pipeline company Enbridge Inc. had first floated the idea of piping half a million barrels a day of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast. Now, 18 months into a contentious hearing process over the pipeline, Neufeld told a government-appointed review panel that his client’s $6.3 billion, 727-mile long project, Northern Gateway, was more vital to Canada than ever. The country’s 178 billion barrels of proven oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s—and burgeoning Asian markets are eager to buy them.

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