B.C. Court of Appeal judges will decide if a proposed law that restricts diluted-bitumen shipments through its borders is constitutional. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — A court will rule today if a proposed British Columbia law that restricts diluted-bitumen shipments through its borders is constitutional.

The decision is expected to be crucial for the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Alberta’s efforts to get oilsands crude to overseas markets.

A panel of B.C. Court of Appeal judges has been mulling B.C.’s constitutional reference case that asks whether it can create a permit regime for companies that want to increase the flow of heavy oil through the province.

B.C. argues the proposed law is aimed at protecting its lands, rivers and lakes from a hazardous substance, but Alberta and the federal government say the goal is to delay or block the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Trudeau government has purchased the pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion and Alberta sees it as an essential development to revitalize its sagging energy sector.

Saskatchewan, Trans Mountain Corp. and Enbridge Inc. also argued in court against B.C.’s proposed permit regime, while First Nations, cities and environmental groups supported it.

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