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Pipeline war escalates as B.C. threatens to sue Alberta over oil blockade threat
Bill 12 at heart of divide
Alberta’s New Democratic Party government passed a bill Wednesday that it says will give the province new powers to restrict the flow of energy resources to British Columbia.
Bill 12 — the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act — authorizes the government to issue licences for any company exporting energy products from Alberta. The province can use this as a tool to identify companies shipping products to British Columbia, including natural gas, crude oil and refined fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
The energy ministry is being asked to issue these licences in the public interest to see whether there is a significant return for the province. Companies that do not comply with the terms of their licence could face fines of up to $10 million per day. Individuals could face fines of up to $1 million per day.
If necessary, this would allow the province to “turn off the taps,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Wednesday. “Albertans have the right to choose how our energy is shipped, so that Alberta gets the best return possible,” she said. “Bill 12 gives us that power.”
With that authority, the province could place restrictions on pipelines as well as transport via rail or truck.
“Make no mistake,” Notley said during the bill’s third reading in the legislature. “We will not hesitate to use that power.”
The move comes in the midst of an ongoing fight between Alberta and British Columbia over the fate of the $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension project.
On Wednesday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said the federal government will financially backstop Trans Mountain, and says if Kinder Morgan walks away, other potential partners may step up.
Notley, who has also said her province would invest in the project to make sure it gets completed, lauded Morneau’s announcement.
“We’re engaged in the conversations that are going on between Kinder Morgan and the federal government, and when there’s more detail that is in everyone’s best interest to disclose, then we’ll do that then.”
Notley refused to outline a timeline for when the legislation kicks in, saying it could take anywhere between 24 hours to a few weeks.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has said his government is exploring legal options to stall the project over concerns he says it poses to the province’s coastline.
With files from David P. Ball and The Canadian Press
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley updates reporters on the progress of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Edmonton on Wednesday.