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Alberta premier says B.C. will face consequences over plan to ban increased oil shipments

Click to play video 'Alberta looks at legal options after BC bitumen move' Alberta looks at legal options after BC bitumen move
WATCH ABOVE: B.C. is looking to limit bitumen flowing across its border and Alberta says that simply won't stand. Tom Vernon has more on the battle heating up between the two provinces over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says there will be consequences for British Columbia over the province’s latest attempt to hinder expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

Notley held an emergency cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss what range of legal and economic levers Alberta can pull in its spat with its neighbour to the west.

“The government of Alberta will not — we cannot — let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand,” she said before the closed-door meeting.

“I’ve called you all together today at this emergency meeting to discuss and evaluate the range of economic and legal options that are available to us including, for example, interprovincial trade in electricity.”

B.C.’s environment minister said Tuesday that the province plans to ban increased shipments of diluted bitumen off its coast until it can determine that shippers are prepared and able to properly clean up a spill.

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The B.C. government says it will establish an independent scientific advisory panel to study the issue.

READ MORE: B.C. government strikes another blow to stop Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion 

But Notley said the pipeline has already been approved by the federal government.

“Just because the B.C. government, in coalition with the Green Party, doesn’t like the decision gives them absolutely no right to ignore the law or … change the rules at half-time based on a whim,” she said.

READ MORE: Alberta Premier Notley says B.C. ‘grasping at straws’ in attempt to restrict bitumen shipments

“Our economies, 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.

“But I believe … that we owe it to Albertans to do everything within our power to defend our jobs and our economic security and we will not waiver in this fight.”

“We just agree to disagree with Alberta,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman told reporters on Wednesday. “What we did yesterday was announce our proposals to protect B.C.’s coastline and environment under the Environmental Management Act. That’s our responsibility and that’s what we’re focused on.”

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Watch below: During an emergency cabinet meeting Wednesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the province contributes mightily to the economic security of every Canadian. She said B.C.’s move to restrict bitumen is illegal and there needs to be consequences, so cabinet will explore the province’s legal options. 

Click to play video 'Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hints at economic retaliation towards BC' Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hints at economic retaliation towards BC
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hints at economic retaliation towards BC

When asked by a reporter if B.C.’s move was unconstitutional, Heyman said that would be something for a court to decide but added that B.C. “wouldn’t be proceeding if we didn’t believe we had the right and the responsibility under the Environmental Management Act to protect B.C.’s coast and the environment against real threats.”

B.C.’s proposal creates more uncertainty for Kinder Morgan’s already-delayed Trans Mountain expansion project that would nearly triple the capacity of its pipeline system to 890,000 barrels a day.

READ MORE: B.C. cities, residents to argue against Trans Mountain pipeline route at hearings

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a statement late Tuesday that Ottawa stands by both its decision to approve the Trans Mountain expansion and its commitment to protect the environment and the B.C. coast.

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“The decision we took on the Trans Mountain Expansion remains in the national interest,” he said. “And it was a decision based on facts and evidence — this has not changed.”

 

Saskatchewan’s incoming premier Scott Moe also expressed support for the project, criticizing the move by B.C.

“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 said in a statement.

“We will support the government of Alberta in any actions against this political decision.”

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News and Phil Heidenreich, Global News