More heat on British Columbia over Trans Mountain pipeline

April 27 (UPI) — The provincial government of British Columbia is wasting its time with legal challenges that could target the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, a trade group said.

The provincial government this week asked the courts to confirm its jurisdiction over the right to regulate the environmental and economic impact of the transportation through its territory of the heavier type of crude oil found in neighboring Alberta.

“Our government will continue to stand up for the right to protect British Columbia’s environment, economy and coast,” Premier John Horgan said Thursday.

Horgan has been a vocal opponent of plans by Kinder Morgan to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta. Tim McMillan, the president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the provincial leader was wasting his time.

British Columbia in January considered new regulations on bitumen, a heavier type of oil found in Canada. Included among the proposals was a restriction on transportation until the government determined what would happen if there was a spill of the thicker type of oil.

“What Premier John Horgan and his government are doing is a sham,” MicMillan said in a statement. “They are not acting in the best interests of Canadians, or British Columbians, but instead advancing their own political agenda.”

After spending more than $850 million since it petitioned federal regulators for the project, Kinder Morgan said earlier this month that opposition to Trans Mountain exposed its shareholders to undue risk. That opposition, the company added, has led to increased provincial tensions.

Alberta’s government said it would help finance the project and later proposed legislation that could block exports of oil, natural gas or fuels to its neighbors. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Horgan’s administration has shown willingness only to stand in the way.

McMillan said the decision should rest with the federal government.

“The government of Canada now needs to exercise its constitutional authority and act in Canada’s best interests to move the project forward without further legal or political delays from the B.C. government,” he said.

Alberta’s government estimates that not moving ahead with the project was costing the Canadian economy around $30 million every day.

Kinder Morgan said it still felt the expansion project was a national interest and would consult with stakeholders on how to proceed. If it can’t find a resolution by May 31, it would likely back out of the project.

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