Environment Minister George Heyman

The Federal Court of Appeal has set back the British Columbia government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline project. The court dismissed BC’s request for leave to appeal a Dec. decision by the National Energy Board to grant municipal permits to Kinder Morgan after it found the City of Burnaby was unnecessarily delaying the approval process.

“We are very disappointed that the federal court of appeal has dismissed our application to appeal,” George Heyman, BC environment and climate change minister, said in a statement.

“This, in effect, allows local permitting process to be needlessly undermined. The provincial government has steadfastly assured administrative fairness, while we defend BC’s interests by insisting on high standards for environmental protection and First Nations consultations.”

When an application is dismissed, the court does not provide an explanation, and that was the case Friday. The court’s website indicated simply that “Non-Action” was taken.

Rachel Notley, Alberta premier.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley welcomed the decision in several Saturday tweets. A spokesperson said the Premier will not be commenting on the dismissal.

The “decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to dismiss the BC Government’s attempt to overturn an NEB ruling against the City of Burnaby is another step forward for market access, the national climate plan, and a strong Canadian economy,” Notley tweeted.

“To date, Alberta has won every case brought against Trans Mountain. Your Alberta government will not back down until this pipeline is built and the national interest is secured.”

The BC NDP government led by John Horgan is preparing a reference case ‎application to the Federal Court of Appeal that would determine the constitutionality of the province restricting shipments of diluted bitumen (dilbit) through pipelines.

The announcement in Feb. that the BC government intended to consult citizens about regulation, as well as four other ones relating to crude oil spills, sparked a political battle between the NDP governments in Edmonton and Victoria.

Notley imposed a ban on the sale of BC wine in Alberta, but rescinded it several weeks later when Horgan decided to refer the question to the courts. His government has hired legal heavyweight Joseph Arvay to draft the reference question.

It’s not clear at this time how the March 23 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal will affect subsequent applications by BC about Trans Mountain Expansion.

Heyman noted that ·last fall British Columbia was granted intervener status in the Federal Court of Appeal judicial review challenging the original NEB decision to approve the 525,000 b/d Kinder Morgan project, which will begin near Edmonton, Alberta and terminate at the Westridge Terminal in Burnaby, BC.

That application – led by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory includes the Burrard Inlet – was submitted in Jan. 2017 but has yet to be ruled upon by the court.

“Our government will continue to explore other legal ways to defend the interests of British Columbians against this unnecessary project,” Heyman said.