The federal government has sent officials to British Columbia for talks aimed at ending an escalating feud between the government in that province and in Alberta over the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.
Speaking in question period Thursday shortly after announcing a massive new bill overhauling the way the federal government approves and reviews proposed energy projects, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was asked what the government is doing to make sure the Trans Mountain pipeline gets built amid the increasingly bitter inter-provincial battle.
“Today I had discussions with my counterparts from Alberta and British Columbia,” McKenna said. “We have officials that are in British Columbia right now having discussions. We are going to get to a resolution.”
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Both Alberta and B.C. have NDP governments but the two governments have been locked in a dispute that centres on whether one province has the right to impede a project that would benefit the other if they feel that project would be an unacceptable risk to their own constituents.
The National Energy Board approved the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in May 2016, which will triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C.
Tanker traffic in the Burnaby terminal is expected to increase from roughly five vessels per month to 34 per month because of the expansion.
The NDP government in B.C. banned the expansion of oil imports through the province last month in an attempt to stop the pipeline, which faces widespread opposition in the province.
Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley immediately vowed to retaliate and — on Tuesday — announced the province will no longer import B.C. wine because of the efforts to obstruct the pipeline expansion.
Supporters of the pipeline argue it is vital to Alberta’s ongoing economic recovery, while opponents argue the risk of a spill along the B.C. coast poses too great a risk to be allowed to proceed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a town hall on Vancouver Island last week that the feud could require federal intervention but that the government will make sure the pipeline gets built.