The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is not in B.C.’s best interest says the BC NDP government.
B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby, along with Environment Minister George Heyman made the announcement on Thursday at a press conference.
“Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests. Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs.”
The government has hired former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger as an external counsel to government and will look to have B.C. as an intervenor in Kinder Morgan hearings.
Eby said Berger will provide legal advice on the options for participation in legal challenges and hearings are scheduled to begin in federal court later this fall.
“This path will be challenging but we are willing to step up,” said Heyman, adding they will continue to hold Kinder Morgan plans to the highest standards.
They also announced the province will continue to consult with First Nations, including potential impacts to Aboriginal rights and title
“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. “This policy review will clarify government policy for decision-makers as they evaluate future permits and work plans.”
The controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project has already been approved by Ottawa, the former B.C. government, and the National Energy Board (NEB).
Opposition leader Rich Coleman said in a release that this announcement today from 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 almost $20 billion increase to our GDP.”
Coleman said this project would create thousands of jobs and now the BC NDP is telling those workers they won’t have a job.
“British Columbians should be rightly concerned that their government is spending tax dollars to stop a project that will not only boost our local economies but also benefit the rest of our country,” said Coleman.
“It’s another example – like opposing LNG and looking for ways to cancel Site C – that illustrates the BC NDP has a no jobs plan agenda.”
While campaigning, Premier John Horgan vowed to fight the expansion project, but wouldn’t say how.
In late May, Horgan said he will take the legal route to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Speaking on CKNW, Horgan said the NDP and Greens are on solid legal footing in trying to stop the project, which he said has ignored the rights of B.C. First Nations.
However, Attorney General David Eby later said the government would not deliberately stall permits for the project, over concerns it could land them in court.
Instead the government could ensure permits require that construction be done in a manner that cuts the risk of spills, protects the environment, and ensures effective cleanup, Eby said.
Trudeau has reiterated his support for the pipeline, and Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley said provinces cannot stop federal projects.
The $6.8 billion-dollar Kinder Morgan expansion will expand the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby.
The proposal was first put forward in 2013.
In 2016, the National Energy Board approved the expansion, subject to 157 conditions.
WATCH: Global News archive video on controversial Kinder Morgan Pipeline project
The proposal will involve 980 kilometres of new pipeline, 12 new pump stations, and 20 new tanks.
The new line will carry heavier oil known as bitumen diluted with a chemical condensate, pumping close to 900,000 barrels a day. This would almost triple its current capacity.
With files from Estefania Duran, Simon Little and The Canadian Press