Notley says B.C. pipeline court challenge illogical, harmful if successful

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the B.C. government’s attempt to get court backing in a bid to thwart the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would put Canada in “economic gridlock” if it succeeds.

British Columbia is seeking control over increased levels of diluted bitumen coming into the province because of concerns of increased risk to the environment.

Notley says if the B.C. Court of Appeal agrees the government has the right to do so, that would open the door to provinces regulating all kinds of goods coming in from the rest of Canada — to the detriment of the economy as a whole.

Notley says her government will seek intervener status in the court proceedings and she expects B.C. will fail.

She also says the legal move is illogical.

She notes that B.C. wants control over more bitumen coming into the province via pipeline on environmental safety grounds, but is OK with current levels already coming in.

“It makes no sense,” Notley said Thursday from Slave Lake, Alta. “If bitumen were so hazardous, why would we only be looking at the (extra) incremental bitumen that’s in the new pipeline?

“This isn’t about environment. This is about the new pipeline … I think the courts will see right through it.”

In Calgary, United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said the court reference is one more delay tactic in a pipeline project that is already on the edge of an abyss.

Operator Kinder Morgan has stopped extra spending on the project and is to decide by the end of May if it will go forward, given the opposition from B.C.

Kenney said Notley’s government has not been strong enough to dissuade B.C. or to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to take action on a project that it already approved.

“None of this gives Kinder Morgan the certainty it needs to proceed with this $7-billion, job-creating investment that would help us get a fair price for our oil,” said Kenney.

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