VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – British Columbia’s NDP government is outlining how it will try to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but there is an admission that the options available to the Province are limited.
The previous BC Liberal government accepted the National Energy Board’s approval for this project, and Environment Minister George Heyman says that does remove some courses of action.
“What we have said is we will use every tool availabe to defend BC’s interests and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he says.
“Some of the tools that were available to BC previously were given away by the previous government when they agreed to accept the National Energy Board review as its own review.”
The government has hired former BC NDP leader and Supreme Court justice Thomas Berger as special legal counsel to look at current action against the pipeline expansion plan, and will also apply to be an intervenor in legal challenges to federal approval of the project.
“There are 21 parties that are challenging the National Energy Board’s process and decision. We’re asking Mr Berger to advise on intervention in that matter,” says Attorney-General David Eby.
“It is government’s desire to seek intervenor status in legal challenges to federal approval of the pipeline expansion and increased oil tanker traffic off BC’s coast,” said Eby. “Mr Berger will provide legal advice to government on the options for participation in legal challenges, and those hearings are scheduled to begin in federal court later this fall.”
There is also a plan to get more consultation from Indigenous people, including consultations regarding potential impacts to Aboriginal rights and title.
Kinder Morgan: moving ahead with September construction
In response, a statement from Trans Mountain/ Kinder Morgan Canada says the company takes the Province’s comments seriously, but intends to move forward with construction next month.
“We are committed to working with the Province and permitting authorities in our ongoing process of seeking and obtaining necessary permits and permissions,” said Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited.
“We have undertaken thorough, extensive and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal Peoples, communities and individuals and remain dedicated to those efforts and relationships as we move forward with construction activities in September.”
The statement says the project has undergone unprecedented scrutiny and review but still received approval from the Government of Canada. The company argues the project will result in direct and lasting economic benefits for BC communities.