EDMONTON — British Columbia Environment Minister Terry Lake sat in personally on hearings Thursday for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, saying he wants to send a message that if there’s a catastrophe, B.C. residents will not be left holding the bag.“Our questions will focus around liability insurance coverage, corporate structure and ensuring British Columbians wouldn’t be left holding any kind of bill if in fact there was an adverse event,” Lake told reporters.Lake was joined at the hearings by former provincial attorney general Geoff Plant.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Earlier Thursday, in a news conference held at the Vancouver Airport, B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced Plant had been hired to oversee the questions the province will ask Northern Gateway president John Carruthers and six Enbridge economists at the hearings.“He’s going to be making sure that we get the answers to the questions that we need,” said Clark.“(He) is one of the finest legal minds in our country. He understands the environment, he understands the government, he understands politics, and our coastline. And the protection of our land base here in British Columbia is deeply important to Geoff.”The team was expected to began questioning the Enbridge experts late Thursday and continue Friday morning.The three-member joint review panel is in the Alberta capital this week to oversee interveners, including the B.C. government, ask questions of Enbridge on the data it is using to make the case for the $6-billion pipeline.Enbridge is looking for federal approval to construct a 1,170-km dual pipeline to ship oilsands crude from the Edmonton area to a marine terminal on the B.C. coast at Kitimat, where it would then be shipped by tanker to emerging markets in Asia.[np-related]The panel has been holding hearings in B.C. and Alberta throughout the year. Critics, including environmentalists and some First Nations, say that given the line will cross wilderness area and almost a thousand waterways, the risk is too high at any price.The Edmonton hearings are focusing on the economics and Plant said the corporate structure is of particular interest, given that Calgary-based Enbridge has created a separate entity to deal with the pipeline.“I’m not worried that they’re creating a shell (entity), but I don’t want them to create a shell, and the people of British Columbia don’t want to face the prospect of someone building a pipeline that isn’t in a position where they can be held directly accountable for some harm caused.”Plant said he also wants to know more about the insurance.“This project has to be supported by insurance. What is Enbridge doing to test that market? What kind of coverage, what liability limits are available? What do we know about that now and can we get some comfort from that, or does it leave us with more questions?” he said.Enbridge estimates that reaching markets in Asia via Northern Gateway would boost Canada’s GDP by $312 billion over 25 years — about $9 billion a year — and bring in $98 billion in government revenue.A study commissioned by British Columbia estimates $81 billion in tax revenue will be accrued by the pipeline over 30 years, with $36 billion going to the federal government, $32 billion to Alberta and just $6 billion to B.C.The project has sparked numerous demonstrations and heated debate in B.C.Clark has said B.C. wants a greater share of the profits and wants hard answers on safety and accident preparedness before her government will consider signing off on the project.She has not said where those profits should come from, but Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said B.C. won’t get a share of Alberta’s oil royalties.Redford said such a revenue sharing deal would effectively rewrite the rules of Confederation.Lake said when the hearings move into B.C. next month, the province will focus more on emergency spill preparedness and other core environmental and safety issues.The joint-panel must submit its final report to the federal government by the end of 2013.Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is endorsing the need for infrastructure to get oil to the growing Asian market, but has said the Northern Gateway decision will be based on science, not politics— With files from James Keller in Vancouver read more