Alberta, feds to team up to ‘eliminate’ Trans Mountain risk, Notley says

OTTAWA — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her province and the federal government have agreed on a plan to “eliminate” investor risk surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

As a result, Notley says, the pipeline “will be built,” although she refused to provide details.

“The federal government, along with the government of Alberta, has commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that will eliminate investor risk,” Notley told a news conference Sunday after her meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“I’m quite confident that should these discussions end successfully, that the pipeline will be built — and that is good, because the pipeline is in the national interest.”

Notley’s remarks followed those of Horgan, who says Sunday’s meeting did nothing to end his ongoing efforts to block the project.

Horgan, Notley and Trudeau met on Parliament Hill in hopes of finding a solution to the impasse between the two provinces, which is threatening to kill the expansion project.

Horgan said Trudeau laid out “legislative and financial measures” to push the project forward, but he did not elaborate.

“Despite all of the commonality between the three of us, we continue to disagree on the question of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the port of Vancouver,” Horgan said.

“We had a discussion about options; the federal government laid out their plans over the nect number of days, I’ll leave that to the prime minister and the finance minister to tell you about, and we had a discussion about what role British Columbia could continue to play to protecting and defending our coast.”

Horgan says Trudeau laid out “legislative and financial measures” to push the project forward, but he did not elaborate. He did note, however, that Trudeau made no threats and made it clear he had no intention of punishing B.C. residents.

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr also took part in today’s meeting.

Horgan’s opposition to Trans Mountain — rooted in part in the fact his tenuous NDP government depends on the support of the Green party, which staunchly opposes the project — is the main reason Kinder Morgan put the brakes on non-essential spending on the project a week ago.

Trudeau, meanwhile, has long insisted the Kinder Morgan pipeline is within federal jurisdiction and that Horgan’s government has no authority to block it — a claim Horgan wants the courts to evaluate, and one with which he says he plans to press ahead.

Horgan’s news conference was barely over before Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was at the podium, laying the blame for the impasse squarely at the prime minister’s feet.

“His damaging policies … have only led to more uncertainty and instability in Canada’s resource sector,” Scheer said.

The energy sector, Scheer said, is now convinced that “Justin Trudeau does not want their business in Canada.”

Trudeau’s cabinet approved the pipeline in 2016, following an interim environmental review process that included assessing things such as the emissions that will be created from producing additional fossil fuels that will flow through it. The cabinet decided the project, which will build a new pipeline that runs parallel to an existing one but can carry twice as much, was in the national interest.

Trudeau has argued repeatedly his government has put in place the environmental protections and policies needed to reduce the risks of an oil spill, and that building the pipeline to get Canadian resources to market is necessary for the Canadian economy.

Notley has said Alberta could buy an equity stake in the pipeline, or even buy the whole thing if necessary.

Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, has given Trudeau until the end of May to find a solution that would provide their investors a measure of confidence that the project would be allowed to proceed.

The meeting, convened at the last minute Thursday as Trudeau was departing for the Summit of the Americas in Peru, marked the first time the three leaders have all been in the same room together to hash out the dispute.

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