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British Columbia has made a small concession to Alberta by admitting that it may not have legal grounds to impose a planned temporary ban on additional oil shipments to Canada’s west coast. The B.C. government said in a statement it had sought legal advice on whether it had jurisdiction to impose the ban.
Last month, B.C.’s environmental ministry proposed new rules for oil spill preparedness and response. As part of these rules’ journey from proposal to regulation, the ministry divulged plans to set up a panel that would look into whether a diluted bitumen spill in the water can be cleaned up.
While the panel works, the ministry has proposed a ban on any increase in heavy crude shipments. From Kinder Morgan’s and the Alberta oil industry’s perspective, it is easy to see this move as a stalling tactic: environmental minister George Heyman has said there was no timeline for the panel, adding that if the work is to be done thoroughly, it could take a couple of years.
Alberta struck back by banning imports of British Columbia wines and asked for help from the federal government, which approved Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion plan last November. Earlier this month, federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in the House of Commons that Ottawa won’t let B.C. “stall or stop” the project. The statement was in response to a motion from the opposition Conservatives, who said PM Trudeau and his government had been sitting idly by while B.C. did its best to block the expansion.
Carr defended the government, saying they had thrown their support behind Trans Mountain in no uncertain terms, but he also defended B.C., saying the provincial government was not in fact trying to delay the project but wanted to consult its citizens on the potential risks linked to the pipeline expansion.
He added, "What we have clearly said is that the federal government holds authority over the [Trans Mountain] pipeline and we will clearly not entertain non-jurisdictional delays intended to stall or stop the project. That is simply not an option."
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.