- British Columbia’s government has admitted it has no power to stop the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project but has argued it should have the power to limit the amount of crude oil that flows across its territory from Alberta.
- The argument was heard by the B.C. Court of Appeals where the NDP government of British Columbia took its case against the Trans Mountain project.
- The federal government has signaled it will continue to support the Trans Mountain expansion project as a crucial piece of infrastructure to get Albertan heavy to international markets.
According to The Globe and Mail, the government of Alberta and the federal government of Alberta submitted their own statements regarding the issue, asserting that the B.C. government “has repeatedly committed publicly to doing everything it can to prevent the (Trans Mountain) Pipeline Expansion Project from going ahead. It lacks the constitutional authority to do it directly, that is: stop the project or place sufficient roadblocks in its way that it cannot realistically proceed.”
In its statement for the court, Ottawa struck at the B.C. government for trying to find a loophole in the law to get its way. It said B.C.’s attempt to restrict the flow of oil raised “a significant concern that the proposed legislation is in fact a legislative Trojan Horse, a bill that has been carefully crafted to appear constitutionally valid so that it might receive a preliminary judicial seal of approval in this reference, but which in substance is an unconstitutional ‘tool’ whose only logical purpose is to limit federally regulated pipelines and railways.”
B.C.’s lawyers have said that the province has no “axe to grind” against pipelines such as the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries heavy oil between Edmonton and Burnaby and which the federal government has purchased for $4.5-billion. He said the province’s regulatory interest is simply aimed at protecting the environment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley have previously said Ottawa, and not the provinces, have the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines. B.C. disagrees.
To keep up on pipeline related news, check the Submar blog regularly, where we’ll keep you up to date.