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B.C. announcement: government will obstruct Trans Mountain

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British Columbia’s new NDP government warned Kinder Morgan yesterday that the company will not be able to begin construction on its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, as the province pledged to join a legal challenge to ultimately kill the project.

B.C. is looking to join the legal fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Nearly two dozen conservationist groups and some First Nations are challenging the federal government's approval of the project.


Yesterday, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby said the province would be seeking intervener status on the legal action.


That status would allow the province to formally back the challenge, even though it wasn't named in initial filings.

“We know with the federal government’s approval of this project that this will be a challenge,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman on Thursday, “but we’ve committed to stepping up and fighting for B.C.’s interests.”

The New Democrats campaigned on a promise to use “every tool in the toolbox” to kill the pipeline expansion, and the issue formed a key part of a power-sharing agreement with the B.C. Greens in the minority legislature.

The B.C. government’s plan to oppose the project, a key election promise from the spring campaign, also lays the groundwork for a confrontation with the federal and Alberta governments, which both maintain the B.C. government has no power to block the CAN$7.4 billion expansion from the Alberta oil sands to the Vancouver region.

“Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests,” said Environment Minister George Heyman, a former Executive Director of Sierra Club BC.

In the near term, Mr. Heyman said construction cannot begin on public land. He said the company has completed only three acceptable provincial environmental management plans for the project, with five others not accepted because of inadequate consultation with First Nations.

“Until those plans are completed, Kinder Morgan, with the exception of private land, cannot put shovels in the ground,” Mr. Heyman said.

The company has previously said some construction on the project will begin next month, but it won’t actually involve work on the pipeline itself. Rather, it will include terminal construction and site preparation.

The province is also seeking intervener status in a case scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal, expected in October. The court will hear several lawsuits launched by First Nations, environmentalists and others, which have been combined into a single case.

The Greens immediately welcomed the announcement.

Heyman announced the province had hired lawyer Thomas Berger, a former B.C. Supreme Court justice, to provide advice to the government in its next steps.

Kinder Morgan’s CAN$7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which involves twinning its 1100 km pipeline from near Edmonton to Burnaby, would triple its capacity to carry 890 000 bpd of oil and promises to create some 15 000 jobs.

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