Renewed legal challenges to Trans Mountain pipeline remain unknown risk: CEO
The man tasked with overseeing the restart of construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline says while he expects work to resume this fall, the extent of any further legal challenges that could impact the project remains an open question.
In an interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, the CEO of the Trans Mountain Corporation says he doesn’t think the outstanding B.C. reference case seeking to challenge the pipeline at the Supreme Court will delay construction. He adds that he can’t predict whether other legal challenges will come forward but noted those that want to challenge the current project approvals will have to do so by next month.
“We’ll get a sense of who’s going to continue to try and legally challenge the project and from there, we’ll be able to gauge just how significant a threat or a risk that is,” said Ian Anderson, adding that he doesn’t see anything now that is a serious threat.
The Liberals first approved the pipeline in 2016 but repeated delays and uncertainty around the project led the original owner, Kinder Morgan, to walk away in early 2018. The federal government then bought the existing pipeline and its associated resources for $4.5 billion — but that doesn’t include the expansion cost.
All in, Kinder Morgan had estimated the expansion to twin the pipeline and triple its capacity would cost about $7.4 billion.
Anderson has said he expects that number will go up given all of the delays it has faced and the additional cost of getting new approvals.
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A Federal Court decision last summer killed all the previous approvals issued, and the Crown corporation managing the expansion must now start from scratch.
Anderson also said the company is aware of online discussions on social media calling for civil disobedience to the renewed construction and that the company is taking steps to limit the impact of that on its workers.
WATCH: An extended interview with the CEO and president of Trans Mountain Corp.
“We’ll be prepared to protect our facilities. We’ll be prepared to ensure the workers are kept safe,” he said when asked about the threats.
“We’re not spending a ton of time thinking about protest activities. People have the right to express their views publicly and we expect them to. Our job is to make sure things are safe and we’ve got plans in place to ensure that’s the case.”
Construction on the pipeline expansion will likely resume in early September, Anderson said.
He also noted that could slide into the middle of that month depending on any challenges that do come up.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the company for which Anderson serves as CEO.
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