Alberta premier calls B.C. bitumen ban an ‘unconstitutional attack’

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the B.C. government "took direct aim" at the Alberta economy by introducing a ban on increased shipments of diluted bitumen | File photo

British Columbia will face consequences for its ban on increased shipments of diluted bitumen, according to Alberta’s premier.

Rachel Notley called an emergency cabinet meeting January 31, one day after the B.C. government announced new regulations to curb oil spills.

The measures, which include placing limits on “dilbit” transports until further studies are done, could potentially hinder Kinder Morgan’s $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion project. The Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline is expected to carry up to 890,000 barrels of oil per day once complete.

“The B.C. government took this action with no provocation and almost no warning. To call this a violation of the rules governing our confederation is an understatement,” said Notley. “The Government of Alberta will not – we cannot – let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand.”

She said there needs to be consequences and that her cabinet will be considering economic and legal options.

“The economies of the two provinces are closely linked. Billions of dollars of goods cross our borders every year. Hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on good trading relationships,” she said. “We owe it to Albertans to do everything within our power to defend our jobs and our economic security, and we will not waver in this fight.”

Scott Moe, Saskatchewan’s newly elected premier, also weighed in. In a Facebook post, he said his government opposes B.C.’s new rules, arguing they were made “under the guise of environmental protection.” (B.C.’s NDP-Green alliance has been a strong opponent of the project and has vowed to use “every tool available” to defend B.C.’s coast.)

“The B.C. NDP are playing politics at the risk of thousands of Canadian jobs, future infrastructure projects as well as investor confidence in our energy industry,” he wrote. “We will support the Government of Alberta in any actions against this political decision.”

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he wasn’t surprised by the “strong reaction” from the two premiers.

“They have been consistent in their view that getting their products to market is more important than what British Columbia wishes,” he told the NOW.

Corrigan said Notley has never made an attempt to speak to him about the pipeline project.

“She’s absolutely disinterested in any of the impacts it might have on our community.”

The mayor added the environmental regulations should have been put in place a long time ago, by the B.C. Liberals.

“They just rubber stamped whatever the federal government said and left this gaping hole in regard to the knowledge that was required to protect the environment,” Corrigan said. “These are all things that are being done to try to make sure that British Columbia is looking after British Columbia throughout this process.”

Trans Mountain did not provide comment when asked if the province’s new measures will further delay the pipeline project. Due to permitting issues and other setbacks, the original in-service date of December 2019 has moved to December 2020.

Proposed measures

The B.C. government wants to impose the following regulations:

*Response times, to ensure timely responses following a spill;
*Geographic response plans, to ensure resources are available to support an immediate response, that take into account unique characteristics of a given sensitive area;
*Compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land, resources or public amenities in the case of spills;
*Maximizing application of regulations to marine spills; and
*Restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until the behaviour of spilled “dilbit” can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.

-Source: Province of British Columbia

Burnaby Now