VANCOUVER – The British Columbia government has applied for intervener status in court challenges against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The NDP government announced earlier this month that it would be joining the legal fight against Ottawa’s approval of the $7.4-billion project and hired former judge Thomas Berger to provide legal advice.
Several First Nations and municipalities have filed legal challenges against the project, which would triple the capacity of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline and increase the number of tankers in Vancouver-area waters.
Attorney General David Eby said the majority of the pipeline is in B.C. and the government should be able to represent the interests of people in the province, notably because the Alberta government has already been granted intervener status.
“We clearly have a distinct point of view from the Attorney General of Alberta in terms of the benefits of this project,” Eby said.
Alberta has long argued that it needs a pipeline to get more of its oil to the West Coast and from there to overseas markets.
B.C.’s former Liberal government issued an environmental certificate for the project earlier this year, but Premier John Horgan campaigned in the spring provincial election his party would do everything possible stop it.
Eby said the government’s specific arguments that it will bring forward to the court, if their application is approved, are still being developed.
“Our goal in every process around this pipeline project is to ensure the interests of British Columbians are protected and that will be the aim of our arguments,” he said.
The province expects a decision on its application to come quickly, as the legal challenges are set to be heard this fall, Eby said.
Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada, has said construction is set to begin in September, but the B.C. government has said only three of eight environment management plans have been accepted, preventing work from starting.