Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

BC government seeks intervener status on Trans Mountain expansion

BC government seeks intervener status on Trans Mountain expansion

The B.C. NDP is beginning to deploy its legal strategy to slow or stop the construction of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline. The review goes ahead in November.

The Province will also fulfil its duty of meaningful consultation with Indigenous people concerning this project, including consultations regarding potential impacts to Aboriginal rights and title - a responsibility that has been identified in a number of court cases. "Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs".

Kinder Morgan's project proposes to nearly triple the number of barrels of oil shipped per day from Edmonton to the shores of Burrard Inlet, increasing from 300,000 to 890,000.

Werner Antweiler, associate professor at the University of BC's Sauder School of Business, doesn't think the B.C. government has a very strong case because, ultimately, interprovincial pipelines are a federal jurisdiction.

"Going forward we will be reviewing policies to outline how our government expects to further meet our commitments to First Nations as well as to all British Columbians with regard to defending our air, land and water", said Heyman. Hyman said eight permits have been issued but they can't be acted on until the company meets the requirements of the environmental assessment certificate issued by the previous government. Until those talks are completed and the province's legal obligations are satisfied, British Columbia said it would prohibit construction of the expansion on government-owned land.

In a release, Interim Leader Rich Coleman says "Today's announcement by the NDP continues to drive the message home to investors that our province is not open for business or investment of any kind and is willing to forfeit an nearly $20 billion increase to our GDP".

Kinder Morgan Canada remains committed to working with the province and meeting its NEB and environmental certificate conditions, he said.

Kinder Morgan Canada plans to start work multiple stages of the project in September.

Rich Coleman, interim leader of the BC Liberal Party, however, said the province stands to lose almost $20 billion in GDP should the NDP kill a project that has already met B.C.'s conditions.

Heyman told reporters that the company "cannot put shovels in the ground" on public land as the government awaits advice from lawyer Tom Berger, an expert in Indigenous legal issues.

In addition, the Squamish First Nation has gone to court to challenge the adequacy of the consultation process by the province.

The Alberta government revealed in its March throne speech that it would also be seeking intervener status for court challenges against the Kinder Morgan project. Many have signed benefits agreements with Kinder Morgan. Meanwhile the City of Burnaby even took Kinder Morgan to court over the proposal, to no avail.

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