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In its latest attempt to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, British Columbia is asking the B.C. Court of Appeal if the province has the right to require the companies willing to carry heavy oil through B.C. to get permits from the province.
“We have asked the courts to confirm B.C.’s powers within our jurisdiction to defend B.C.’s interests, so that there is clarity for today and for the generations to come,” Premier John Horgan said in a statement after the province submitted a reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal—the highest court to which the province can send a reference question.
“Our government will continue to stand up for the right to protect B.C.’s environment, economy and coast,” said Horgan.
The B.C. government is asking the court to review proposed amendments to the Environmental Management Act that would give the province the authority to regulate impacts of heavy oils, like diluted bitumen.
B.C. Liberal Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson said that the reference questions and proposed legislation “doesn’t make any sense” because it excludes tanker traffic.
British Columbia’s new NDP government has been locked in a bitter dispute with neighboring Alberta—the heart of the Canadian oil industry—over Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion plan.
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Earlier this month, Kinder Morgan threatened to suspend the project entirely if the legal issues surrounding it cannot be resolved by May 31, Chairman Steve Kean said, adding the company would not continue risking shareholder funds on the project unless the clouds over it clear.
The US$5.8-billion project should see the capacity of the Trans Mountain crude pipeline from Alberta to the western Canadian coast in British Columbia triple, but this has sparked outrage in B.C., especially after a government change last year, with the new NDP government vowing to oppose the pipeline with all legal means available.
After Kinder Morgan’s announcement, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered financial aid to Kinder Morgan to make sure the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline gets built despite strong opposition from British Columbia.
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.