BC government announces it will fight National Energy Board on Trans Mountain pipeline ruling

Feb 18 2018, 10:31 am

In a move that will certainly rile up Alberta and the federal government, the BC NDP provincial government announced this afternoon it will appeal a major ruling late last year by the National Energy Board (NEB) that allows Kinder Morgan to bypass the City of Burnaby’s bylaws that impede construction work on the Trans Mountain pipeline.

On December 7, the NEB answered a constitutional question made by Kinder Morgan after the company filed notices with the federal agency earlier in the fall in response to the municipal government’s delays with issuing permits for preliminary plan approval and tree cutting.

The company alleged the municipal government, which is staunchly against the pipeline, was intentionally delaying the construction timeline at Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.

NEB ruled in favour of Kinder Morgan and against the municipality.

“The Province’s position is that the NEB erred by too broadly defining federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines. The Federal Court of Appeal will now consider the application,” reads today’s release issued by the provincial government.

“British Columbia first appeared as an intervener in the October 2017 Federal Court of Appeal hearing over the NEB’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.”

This follows Premier John Horgan’s decision late last month to ban increases in diluted bitumen until further study is made on how spills along the coast can be mitigated.

With the project’s timeline and continuation at risk, Premier Rachel Notley retaliated with threats of economic sanctions on BC and formed a task force on recommending possible actions against Alberta’s western neighbour.

So far, BC wine imports into Alberta have been banned, and Notley has stated that more sanctions could be put into place if Horgan does not break the impasse.

In November 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain project, but rejected Embridge Northern Gateway as a compromise.

Then early last year, the previous provincial government led by the BC Liberals granted Trans Mountain an environmental assessment approval, with conditions. The new BC NDP government is opposed to the project, as it is dependent on the BC Green Party, which is against firmly against the pipeline, to remain in power.

The 987-km-long Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby is estimated to cost $7.4 billion. When complete in late-2019, it will triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, allowing it to handle 890,000 barrels of oil per day. Tanker traffic in Vancouver harbour is expected to increase from five to 34 vessels per month as a result.

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