B.C. government heading to court over Trans Mountain pipeline to address concern over bitumen shipments

B.C. government heading to court over Trans Mountain pipeline to address concern over bitumen shipments


anadians are split 50/50 when it comes to the B.C.-Alberta dispute over the pipeline’s expansion. File photo from CBC.

The B.C. NDP government has announced it will be asking the court if it has the right to protect its environment by restricting diluted bitumen in the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Premier John Horgan said Thursday that his government is filing a constitutional reference case on the issue, which has been at the centre of a heated debate between the two provinces.

“We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” Horgan said.

“And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

He also said the federal government declined an invitation to join the province in the reference question.

Hogan denied that the province is backing down in the dispute, saying the intention is to have cooler heads prevail.He said he wants B.C. and Alberta to be good neighbours, but the rest of Canada needs to know how strongly British Columbia feels about protecting its coastline.

Horgan said the consultations on the other four remaining safeguards will begin soon. The safeguards were announced in January by Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman. The four safeguards are: spill response time, geographic response plans, compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land and application of regulations to marine spills.

Horgan’s announcement comes one day after the Alberta government put advertisements in B.C. newpapers looking to drum up support for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Before the ads appeared, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promised retaliatory measures if there is no progress on resolving the pipeline impasse.

Earlier in February, Notley announced a ban on the import of B.C. wine. She also previously paused talks to buy more electricity from B.C., launched an online protest petition against Horgan, which now has more than 36,000 names and has been meeting with a 19-member committee made up of business people and academics to find ways to put more heat on B.C.

On Thursday, Notley said the wine ban has been suspended.

The B.C. NDP government is against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, although it has already been approved by the federal government. Alberta sees Horgan’s actions as an illegal way to kill the expansion.

Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have made it clear that only Ottawa, not the provinces, has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines.

Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts to find a solution to the impasse.

And a recent Angus Reid poll has found 50 per cent of the country supports B.C.’s to the pipeline project, while the other 50 per cent favours the Alberta government’s side. Fifty-eight of British Columbians support their provincial government compared to 82 per cent of Albertans who support theirs.

With files from The Canadian Press


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