Construction may have halted for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, but heated debate around its future continues.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Premiers John Horgan and Rachel Notley for a discussion on Sunday morning, a meeting that was organized in the wake of Kinder Morgan’s announcement that it would be stopping all non-essential spending on the expansion project.
Notley and Horgan have been at odds on the issue for months, with tensions coming to a head in late January when the BC government announced plans to restrict the amount of bitumen that flows to its shores – restrictions that would essentially halt the expansion.
Federal government exploring legislative options
Sunday’s meeting proved incapable of finding a solid solution, though Trudeau stated in a press conference following the meeting that the federal government is now engaged in conversation with Kinder Morgan about the financial security of the project.
“I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project,” Trudeau said to reporters following the meeting with the premiers.
“We will not have these discussions in public, but construction will go ahead.”
He also stated that his government will be exploring legislation that would put decisions regarding the pipeline more firmly in the hands of the federal government.
“I have also informed premiers Notley and Horgan today that we are actively perusing legislative options that will assert, thus reinforce, the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have.”
When asked for details on the legislation, Trudeau was proved somewhat tight-lipped, but stated that it would be announced as soon as further details became available.
“[The legislative options] will be associated with ensuring that it is clear and certain that this pipeline will be built,” Trudeau said.
He also laid the blame for Kinder Morgan’s uncertainty at the feet of the BC government.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I don’t think we would be in this current situation if the British Columbia government hadn’t continued to emphasize its opposition to the project,” Trudeau said.
“That is why we’re at this point right now.”
Horgan will accept court’s decision
As for Horgan, he came out of the meeting stating that, if the courts ultimately ruled against him and his government, he would accept the decision.
“It’s my view that, should the courts render a decision that’s counter to our position, then that’s the way it should be.”
However, the court battle launched by the BC government, which weighed largely into why Kinder Morgan halted all non-essential spending and placed a May 31 deadline as to whether or not they will move forward or scrap the project, will continue.
“In the federal court that were involved in right now, that’s a decision that were expecting within a number of weeks,” Horgan said.
“The reference, which has taken more time than any of us would have hoped… it takes a little bit of time, you can’t do it over the weekend. I would have preferred if it was done a month ago, and I’m hopeful that it will be done in the next number of days.”
Alberta talking with Kinder Morgan
Following the meeting, Notley made it clear that the government of Alberta has begun talking with Kinder Morgan about the Trans Mountain Expansion’s financial security.
The premier had stated in the past week that Alberta would be willing to become a financial investor in the pipeline if need be.
“The federal government, along with the government of Alberta, has commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that will eliminate investor risk,” she said.
“I’m quite confident that, should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built.”
Notley has also recently hinted at an upcoming bill that would give Alberta more control over the amount of fuel it sends into BC, potentially spiking the cost of gas for British Columbians as we head into the pricier summer months.
Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, was given notice on April 10, and is likely to be unveiled sometime in this upcoming week.
“We’ve been fighting as hard as we possibly can to defend the jobs that Albertans and Canadians rely on, to advance our climate goals, and to support working families now and into the future,” Notley said following the meeting with Horgan and Trudeau.
“At the end of the day, there is only one outcome from the province of Alberta, and that outcome is the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”