Premier Rachel Notley said the 22-week pipeline review timeline announced by the federal government Friday morning is reasonable but that Albertans are skeptical.
“If the timeline starts to slide… or if the goal posts shift, Alberta’s voice will be loud,” Notley said at a news conference at noon Friday.
She also said Alberta is still out of the federal government’s climate change plan, which mandates putting a price on carbon emissions, and won’t rejoin until the pipeline is approved.
Earlier Friday, the federal government announced the National Energy Board (NEB) has less than six months to redo its environmental review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, this time taking into account the impact of additional oil tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia.
The federal cabinet has ordered the NEB to return with a new recommendation within 22 weeks on whether the pipeline expansion should proceed after taking a look at the environmental impact of having more than three dozen oil tankers shipping diluted bitumen through the Burrard Inlet every month.
Notley said the Alberta government would have used different tools to secure a timeline, but simply wants the federal government to establish a clear path forward and act within weeks, not months.
“The regulatory timeline laid out today is actually reasonable,” she said. “We still remain a little bit skeptical.”
Notley said Alberta will not tolerate legal game-playing and will “hold Ottawa’s feet to the fire.”
When asked what that would entail, she said Alberta would continue to push very hard across the country to grow support and increase public understanding of the importance of this pipeline.
There are tens of thousands of jobs on the line, she said, billions of dollars, as well as Canada’s international reputation and the country’s economic future.
Notley wouldn’t elaborate on any additional tools the Alberta government might use.
“Our fight has just begun,” she said, adding Alberta produces energy products using the highest environmental standards in world and has “worked day and night” to make sure this project benefits all Canadians.
The timeline must be stable and clear to reduce any kind of instability felt by stakeholders and investors.
“There is a timeline that is credible that people can make plans on the basis of.”
WATCH: It will be at least mid-February before Albertans learn if the Trans Mountain pipeline will get a fresh approval for construction. Tom Vernon has the timeline laid out by the federal Liberals.
But the opposition feel Albertans have no more clarity on when construction on the pipeline expansion will actually begin.
“With a 22-week NEB review and later federal cabinet deliberations, it seems no decision will be made until end of May 2019 at the very earliest,” UCP Deputy Leader Leela Aheer said in a statement.
“In fact, one is left wondering if Prime Minister Trudeau is planning to delay his decision until after the fall 2019 federal election.
“It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the prime minister has rejected Alberta’s two modest asks: an appeal to the Supreme Court and clarifying federal legislation. Once again, Albertans are seeing how Premier Notley’s failed alliance with Justin Trudeau is playing out in practice.”
The Alberta Party also criticized Notley’s approach.
“Rachel Notley’s government is left with no tools in the box they are willing to use to advance Alberta’s economic interests,” leader Stephen Mandel said. “Today’s press conference is more of the same naïve wait-and-see approach that has stalled this project, and unfortunately, it has become a pattern of incompetent governance.”
“The Notley carbon tax was supposed to earn us the social license to proceed with this pipeline development,” he continued. “It is clear that hasn’t worked and, as such, the Alberta Party is calling on Premier Notley to repeal her carbon tax until such time as the oil is flowing through the pipeline.”
The Alberta Liberals issued a statement saying they’re pleased there is now some progress on the project but are putting the feds and Alberta NDP “on notice.”
“The world is watching,” leader Dave Khan said. “Energy project investment across the board is waiting for a resolution. We cannot fumble the ball a second time or third time.
“We urge careful and meaningful consideration of the marine environmental impact and not just a token review of this essential issue… We are also calling for careful and meaningful consultation and accommodation with Indigenous groups.
“An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada will only lead to more uncertainty and delay. This is not productive,” Khan said.
— With files from The Canadian Press