In response to today’s Federal Court of Appeal decision to axe the federal government’s previous approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Alberta provincial government has retaliated by announcing late this afternoon that it will be withdrawing from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal climate plan.
“Let’s be clear, without Alberta that plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley during a press conference today.
“As important as climate action is to our province’s future, I have also always said that taking the next step in signing on to the federal climate plan can’t happen without the Trans Mountain pipeline.”
Trans Mountain made its intentions clear earlier this year it planned on resuming pipeline construction shortly, but following today’s judicial decision the company stated it will be suspending all construction activities.
Notley says the province is pulling out of the federal climate plan until work on the Trans Mountain pipeline resumes and “the federal government gets its act together.”
“The current state of affairs in Canada is such that building a pipeline to tidewater is practically impossible,” she continued. “This ruling is bad for working families and it is bad for the security of our country and the economic security of our country.”
Notley previously hinted that Alberta would threaten the viability of the federal climate plan should progress on the pipeline project be stalled or cancelled. For the federal government’s next steps, she wants Trudeau to send the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada and order an emergency session of Parliament.
After its inability to overcome a corporate confidence impasse, the federal government announced in May that it will purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion. This is in addition to the projected $7.4 billion cost of constructing the project, which entails the replacement and expansion of the existing 1953-built, 1,147-km-long pipeline that begins near Edmonton and the expansion of the Burnaby export terminal.
It would enable the pipeline to move 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day – up from 300,000 barrels per day. The number of tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet to the terminal would rise from about four tankers per month to as many as 34 tankers per month.
The judicial ruling is seen as a major victory for First Nations and environmentalist groups, as well as the BC NDP provincial government and the municipal governments of Burnaby and Vancouver, which have been charged by pipeline supporters as obstructionists.
Today’s developments come just ahead of this weekend’s deadline for all provincial governments to submit their climate change plans to the federal government for evaluation. If the provincial proposals do not meet federal standards, then the federal government will impose a carbon price on that province.
Currently, the federal climate plan entails a tax on greenhouse gas emissions starting at $10 per tonne this year, with incremental hikes of $10 per year to the ceiling of $50 per tonne in 2022. Provincial governments can decide on the method – either a tax or a cap-and-trade program.
Some provinces are fighting the federal climate plan in court; the provincial government of Saskatchewan says it will not submit its plan for the federal government to review, and earlier this summer it filed a constitutional reference to Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal to ask whether Ottawa has the right to impose various taxes on jurisdictions. The new Ontario provincial government under Premier Doug Ford is a part of this reference as an intervener.