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The bitter dispute over the expansion of the Trans Mountain crude oil pipeline between British Columbia and Alberta took another legal turn for the worse on Tuesday after B.C. sued Alberta over a recently passed act giving Alberta the power to reduce the flow of crude to British Columbia in retaliation for B.C.’s efforts to end the pipeline’s expansion plans.
The Government of British Columbia filed Tuesday the statement of claim—after it had threatened to do so last week—in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench, arguing that the ‘Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act’ recently passed by Alberta violates the Canadian Constitution in the part that prohibits any law that is a tariff or whose purpose and essence make it “tariff-like.”
With this lawsuit, British Columbia seeks “a declaration that the Act is inconsistent, in whole or in part, with the Constitution of Canada and is of no force and effect.”
“A significant disruption in the supply of gasoline, diesel, and crude oil from Alberta to British Columbia would cause British Columbia irreparable harm,” B.C. argues in the claim.
“The Government of Alberta introduced and supported the Act because it asserts British Columbia is responsible for “delays” to an expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which transports petroleum products from Edmonton to Kamloops, Burnaby, and Washington. Alberta seeks to utilize powers under the Act to punish British Columbia, and to exert pressure upon British Columbia with a view to forcing British Columbia to, inter alia, discontinue the reference to its own courts about the constitutionality of proposed amendments to the British Columbia Environmental Management Act,” the plaintiff says.
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Alberta, for its part, says that its threat to turn off the fuel taps to neighboring B.C. is no joke.
“Albertans, British Columbians and all Canadians should understand that if the path forward for the pipeline through B.C. is not settled soon, I’m ready and prepared to turn off the taps,” Alberta PM Rachel Notley said last week.
While the two provinces are locked in the dispute, the deadline given by Kinder Morgan—May 31—is drawing closer. Kinder Morgan has given Canada until that date to find a way to guarantee that the Trans Mountain expansion could move forward without any more delays.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.