B.C. gears up for potential legal battle with Alberta over pipelines

Click to play video: 'Alberta premier blasts B.C. over Kinder Morgan plans'
Alberta premier blasts B.C. over Kinder Morgan plans
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blasts the B.C. government for its latest proposal to block the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Richard Zussman reports – Feb 1, 2018

The B.C. government claims it has the legal authority to restrict the bitumen travelling through the province via pipeline.

The province’s Environmental Management Act gives it the right to take action that would protect B.C.’s coastline and environment, said Environment Minister George Heyman.

Coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline on

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“Constitutional rights are something that are determined by the courts. But we wouldn’t be proceeding if we didn’t think believe we have the right and the responsibility under the Environmental Management Act to protect B.C.’s environment and coast against real threats,” Heyman said.

“I don’t think we are starting a constitutional crisis. I think we are proceeding with proposing regulations and consulting on relations to consult B.C.’s coastline and environment. That’s our job.”

But Alberta doesn’t agree.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is a staunch supporter of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project that would see a tripling in capacity of oil that can be moved from north of Edmonton to B.C.’s coast.

Notley sees B.C.’s actions as a threat to Canada’s constitution and a breach of interprovincial trade rules. She said her government will take any necessary legal action against B.C.

“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,” Notley said.

Alberta is also threatening economic consequences. Notley said Alberta could refuse to take hydroelectricity from the Site C dam, which is currently under construction.

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WATCH: B.C. is looking to limit bitumen flowing across its border and Alberta says that simply won’t stand. Alberta provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon has more on the battle heating up between the two provinces over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Click to play video: 'Alberta looks at legal options after BC bitumen move'
Alberta looks at legal options after BC bitumen move

British Columbia is planning months of consultations with local governments, First Nations and other stakeholders to determine what sort of impact an oil spill could have on the environment.

But even a short-term moratorium on oil shipments could break Canadian law, said UBC law professor Elizabeth Edinger.

“It always depends a little bit on how British Columbia goes about enacting regulations but I would say, prima facie, that British Columbia probably doesn’t have the constitutional right,” she said.

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  • With files from The Canadian Press

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