Province filing reference case to appeals court to determine what power it has to regulate oil flow

Province filing reference case to appeals court to determine what power it has to regulate oil flow

File photo.

File photo.

A reference question has been submitted to the B.C. Court of Appeal by the provincial government to determine its jurisdiction over regulating heavy oils transported through the province.

The reference case is asking the court to confirm the power B.C. has to protect the environmental and economic impacts of an oil spill along the B.C. coast.

It is the latest attempt from the NDP government to block the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Canada pipeline that would triple the amount of bitumen flowing from Edmonton to Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan has stopped spending on the $7.4 billion dollar project, blaming the opposition to expansion for delaying construction.

“Our government will continue to stand up for the right to protect B.C.’s environment, economy and coast,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a release.

At a media conference on environmental protection Thursday morning in Victoria, Horgan said he does not work for Kinder Morgan, but for the people of B.C.

Kinder Morgan says governments have until May 31 to resolve the impasse so construction can continue without delays to the federally approved expansion.

Attorney General David Eby says a decision from the court on the matter by the deadline is highly unlikely.

“We have been clear from the outset that the appropriate way to resolve disagreements over jurisdiction is through the courts, not through threats and unlawful measures to target citizens of another province,” Eby said.

The pipeline dispute has caused tension between Canada’s two westernmost provinces, as legislation in Alberta was introduced to control the amount of oil and other energy products shipped to B.C.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said opposition from B.C. to the pipeline project is costing Canada $40-million dollars a day as it tries to get its oil to the market.

The expansion got federal approval in 2016 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised the pipeline will go ahead.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every measure to reduce risks is in place and that those responsible for spills are held accountable for fixing any environmental damage they cause,” Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman said.

In a statement Thursday morning, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he is pleased to see the government continue to stand up for the province.


A letter has been released from the federal environment minister to her counterpart in B.C. to establish proposing a joint panel to enhance existing research on oil spills.

Catherine McKenna is pitching to George Heyman for a federal-provincial panel of scientists to look at current models of how to respond to a spill involving different petroleum products.

The letter outlines what steps Ottawas has taken, and how far it will go, to ensure the pipeline is built.

McKenna said increased capacity to tow ships and five new emergency response stations have been established to mitigate damage from a spill.

She adds the federal government is willing to do more to address the concerns from opponents to the pipeline expansion.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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