Court Rules British Columbia Can’t Limit Oil Shipments

Court Rules British Columbia Can’t Limit Oil Shipments

  • The unanimous ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal represented a major win for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which the federal government and Alberta see as crucial to getting more oils and crude product to overseas markets.
  • C.’s minority NDP government, which took power on a promise to use every tool available to stop the expansion, swiftly announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The province filed a constitutional reference question to the Appeal Court that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen. A five-judge panel agreed that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

Justice Mary Newbury wrote on behalf of the panel that the overall aim of the proposed amendments was to place conditions on and, if necessary, prohibit the movement of heavy oil through a federal undertaking. Newbury also wrote that the legislation is not just a general environmental law but is targeted at one substance in one interprovincial pipeline: the Trans Mountain expansion project.

“This alone threatens to usurp the role of the (National Energy Board), which has made many rulings and imposed many conditions to be complied with by Trans Mountain for the protection of the environment,” she wrote.

The energy board is the body entrusted with regulating the flow of resources across Canada to export markets. Trans Mountain Corp. said it agreed that the legislation was unconstitutional and that it shares the value that Canadians and B.C. residents place on the environment. The project would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry diluted bitumen from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver and increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

To keep up on pipeline related news, check the Submar blog regularly, where we’ll keep you up to date.