B.C. joins le­gal bat­tles against Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY LAURA KANE

Bri­tish Columbia says it will join the le­gal fight against the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion, while warn­ing the com­pany it can’t be­gin work on pub­lic land un­til it gets fi­nal ap­proval from the prov­ince.

The NDP gov­ern­ment has hired for­mer judge Thomas Berger to pro­vide le­gal ad­vice as it seeks in­ter­vener sta­tus in court chal­lenges against Ot­tawa’s ap­proval of the $7.4-bil­lion project.

Premier John Hor­gan promised in the pro­vin­cial elec­tion this spring to use “ev­ery tool in the tool­box” to stop the ex­pan­sion by Trans Moun­tain, a sub­sidiary of Kinder Mor­gan Canada.

Sev­eral First Na­tions and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have filed le­gal chal­lenges against the project, which would triple the ca­pac­ity of the Al­berta-toB.C. pipe­line and in­crease the num­ber of tankers in Van­cou­ver-area wa­ters.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man said the ex­pan­sion is not in the prov­ince’s “best in­ter­ests.”

“A seven-fold in­crease in tanker traf­fic in B.C.’s coastal wa­ters is sim­ply too great a risk to our en­vi­ron­ment, our econ­omy and to thou­sands of ex­ist­ing jobs,” he said.

B.C.’s for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is­sued an en­vi­ron­men­tal cer­tifi­cate for the project ear­lier this year.

Trans Moun­tain has said con­struc­tion is set to be­gin in Septem­ber, but Hey­man said only three of eight en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment plans re­quired by the prov­ince have been ac­cepted.

It’s un­likely those re­main­ing will get ap­proval be­fore work was to start, he said.

The other five man­age­ment plans have not been ac­cepted be­cause the com­pany didn’t ad­e­quately con­sult First Na­tions, Hey­man said.

“Un­til that has been com­pleted, Kinder Mor­gan, with the ex­cep­tion of some pri­vate land and some clear­ing of right-of-way, can­not put shov­els in the ground.”

Hey­man said a stor­age fa­cil­ity and ma­rine ter­mi­nal in Burn­aby are on pri­vate prop­erty, but the ma­jor­ity of the pipe­line ei­ther passes through First Na­tions ter­ri­tory or pub­lic land.

Kinder Mor­gan Canada pres­i­dent Ian An­der­son said the com­pany takes the com­ments of the B.C. gov­ern­ment se­ri­ously and will meet with it to work through its con­cerns.

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