B.C. threatens legal action against Alberta over bill that could drive up West Coast gas prices

B.C. threatens legal action against Alberta over bill that could drive up West Coast gas prices

April 16, 2018 0 By admin

B.C. officials are threatening legal action against Alberta if proposed legislation drives up gas prices on the West Coast.

Attorney General David Eby said using policy to punish a province is unconstitutional, and that B.C. would consider filing a lawsuit.

Eby and Energy Minister George Heyman said B.C. will be examining Alberta’s legislation closely.

“I’m not counting on Alberta taking extreme or unlawful actions, but if they do we’re prepared to defend British Columbians’ interests with every legal means available and in the courts,” Heyman said.

And if the bill introduced in Edmonton Monday does cause local gas prices to spike, Heyman said B.C. will “certainly take them to court.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley formally announced Bill 12, first hinted at last week, Monday afternoon. If approved, the province could start denying oil companies access to the Trans Mountain pipeline, or limiting how much is sent west, as soon as next month.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the bill’s introduction to the Legislative Assembly, Notley described the bill as in defence of the energy industry, and as a response to roadblocks set up by B.C.

“This bill will give Albertans greater control of their resources, and ensure that our energy sector is able to provide Canada the maximum economic benefit of those resources,” she said.

Titled Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, the bill would require companies exporting energy products from Alberta to apply for a licence.

Licences would be granted at the discretion of Alberta’s energy ministry, if the minister determines it to be “in the public interest,” with conditions including amount of natural gas, crude oil and refined fuels that can be shipped.

Restrictions could be imposed on the methods in which they are shipped, including by pipeline, truck or train. Those who fail to comply with the act could face fines of up to $1 million a day for individuals, and $10 million a day for corporations.

Bill 12 is one of several threats Alberta has made over B.C.’s actions, which have delayed construction on the pipeline and could spook investors. Earlier this year, Alberta briefly imposed a ban on B.C. wines, but put the illegal sanction on ice after Premier John Horgan announced he’d take their dispute to the court. 

Notley says the delays have caused the Canadian economy to miss out on millions of dollars in revenue each day.

“We cannot and we will not let that stand,” she said.

“This bill sends a clear message: We will use every tool at our disposal to defend Albertans, to defend our resources, and to defend the vital public services that working families rely on.”

The act is expected to impact the cost of gas in B.C., a province already dealing with record-breaking prices at the pumps. 

Last month, the price of gas reached 156.9 cents per litre in parts of Metro Vancouver, breaking a record set in June 2014. Gas price analyst Dan McTeague has predicted prices will climb to 160 cents per litre during the summer as demand increases.

Horgan asked the federal government for help in March to ease the pinch felt by local drivers, a move Notley called hypocritical. 

The Trans Mountain pipeline currently ships an average of 258,000 barrels per day of crude oil and blended bitumen, and about 44,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel.

The premier’s office said about 80,000 barrels of refined fuels go to B.C. each day, transferred by pipeline, vehicle and train.

‘It will be built,’ Trudeau says

Over the weekend, the premiers of both provinces attended an emergency meeting with the prime minister over the Trans Mountain expansion, a $7.4-billion project approved despite opposition from B.C.

One week ago, Kinder Morgan announced it was stopping all non-essential spending due to continued actions from those against the twinning of the pipeline. 

Justin Trudeau took an unscheduled break from a trip overseas to meet with the leaders, and while few details have been made public, the leader said he would use financial and legislative measures to ensure the project proceeds.

“The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is of vital strategic interest to Canada,” Trudeau told reporters after the meeting.

“It will be built.”

The prime minister said he’s open to taking additional steps to address environmental concerns raised by Horgan, but the B.C. premier said he’s still worried about the impacts an oil spill could have on Canada’s western coastline.

Notley called the meeting “good progress.”

“Our work to get this pipeline built, quite frankly, is nation-building work, with benefits that will be felt from coast to coast to coast,” she said.

Opposition ‘resolute’ in B.C.

But Trudeau’s message was the opposite of the sentiments shared Monday by B.C. Indigenous leaders, MPs and mayors.

At a news conference, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said, “We confirm that our opposition is resolute, and we fully intend to stop this massively destructive pipeline from being built.”

Chief Bob Chamberlin said Kinder Morgan, the Texas-based company behind the Trans Mountain pipeline, needs consent of all First Nations along the route, and that they do not have it.

“Bailing out Kinder Morgan so they can trample Indigenous Title and Rights makes a mockery of the Canadian pledge to respect the rights of Indigenous people,” Chamberlin said.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan called Trudeau’s suggestion to supplement the project with taxpayer dollars “unacceptable,” and Kennedy Stewart, MP for Burnaby South, likened the prime minister’s actions to bullying.

Mayor Gregor Robertson did not attend the conference Monday, but said in a statement that Vancouver stands firmly against the project.

“Climate change is accelerating and the Federal government needs to double down on a renewable energy future that provides good paying jobs across the country rather than subsidize fossil fuels and increase Canada’s climate pollution,” he said.

“Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is a huge threat to Vancouver’s environment and economy.”

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Bhinder Sajan, CTV Edmonton’s Shanelle Kaul and The Canadian Press

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