Prime Minister Trudeau said during a radio interview on Thursday that the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built.  Trans Mountain photo.

BC gov’t proposed new restrictions against bitumen shipments via Trans Mountain pipeline

In response to a BC NDP government proposal which would restrict bitumen shipments transported by rail or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government is examining possible legal and economic retaliations against BC.

“We will, in fact, be taking them to court as quickly as possible if they don’t back down,” said Notley.  “This is just not something they can do. It’s creating huge economic insecurity. It puts a chill on investment and it jeopardizes jobs.”

Notley describes the BC proposal for new oil-spill regulations restricting the shipment of Alberta’s diluted bitumen as “unconstitutional” and a direct attack on the economy of Alberta. She says Alberta will respond in a proportional way.

“This is well beyond any authority that the minister has, and it has implications for economic growth … across the country,” said Notley.

The BC government says it wants to place restrictions on increased transportation of diluted bitumen by rail and pipeline, until the province can conduct further studies.

According to Notley, because the pipeline has already been approved by the federal government, BC has no right to ignore the law.  “This is not how Canada operates,” said Notley, adding any decision in the courts will favour Alberta.

Following an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Notley said “The B.C. government took this action with no provocation and almost no warning.”  She added “The government of Alberta will not, we cannot, let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand.”

No final decision was made on what action the Alberta government would take, but “the Cabinet had a vibrant and productive discussion and have identified some options they’d like to consider further,” according Cheryl Oates, Notley’s communications director.

Oates said “The (government of Alberta) is going to keep working on a path forward in regard to both legal and economic options.”

The two governments have been in talks dealing with the possible sale of BC electricity from the Site C hydroelectricity project on the Peace River.

BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman said his government is just doing its job and he denied the BC government was sparking a constitutional crisis with the proposed regulations.

“We wouldn’t be proceeding if we didn’t believe we had the right and the responsibility under the Environmental Management Act to protect B.C.’s coast and our environment against real threats,” he told CBC News.

Notley calls Heyman’s decision a “ridiculous tactic”.  She adds “the people of B.C. have to wonder about an environment minister who is attacking investment and attacking economic growth at the same time their premier is in Asia trying to drum up investment.”

Alberta garnered support from the government of Saskatchewan. “We will support the Alberta government in any actions against this political decision,” Saskatchewan premier-designate Scott Moe said tweeted on Wednesday morning.

Weighing in on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the pipeline would be built.