CLARE CLANCY ‘I am ready and pre­pared to turn off the taps’: Not­ley

Bill gives en­ergy min­is­ter power over oil, gas, re­fined fuel ex­ports

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - With files from The Cana­dian Press cclancy@post­media.com twit­ter.com/clare­clancy

The Alberta gov­ern­ment is poised to turn off the taps to Bri­tish Columbia after ap­prov­ing land­mark leg­is­la­tion that could throt­tle en­ergy ex­ports in de­fence of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion.

“If the path for­ward for the pipe­line through B.C. is not set­tled soon, I am ready and pre­pared to turn off the taps,” Premier Rachel Not­ley told a Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence, stop­ping short of out­lin­ing how long that would take. “It could hap­pen in 24 hours, it could hap­pen over a much longer pe­riod of time.”

The NDP’s cor­ner­stone bill grants the en­ergy min­is­ter li­cens­ing au­thor­ity over ex­port­ing crude oil, nat­u­ral gas and re­fined fu­els.

Bill 12 was pushed through hours after fed­eral Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau promised Ot­tawa would back­stop the $7.4-bil­lion Trans Moun­tain project if Kinder Mor­gan Inc. walks away.

Last month, the com­pany set a May 31 dead­line to re­store share­holder con­fi­dence and halted non-es­sen­tial spend­ing on the ex­pan­sion.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is will­ing to “pro­vide in­dem­nity” to any in­vestors, be they the project’s orig­i­nal ar­chi­tects or oth­er­wise, to en­sure the con­tro­ver­sial project is able to pro­ceed, Morneau told re­porters in Ot­tawa on Wed­nes­day.

“We are will­ing to in­dem­nify the Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion against un­nec­es­sary de­lays that are po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated,” he said.

Not­ley wel­comed the move and called it an im­por­tant step.

“I am con­fi­dent so­lu­tions will be found that al­low for con­struc­tion to re­sume on sched­ule this sum­mer,” she said. “There are a num­ber of different lever­age points in what is a very com­plex ne­go­ti­a­tion.”

Both news con­fer­ences co­in­cided with Kinder Mor­gan’s an­nual meet­ing in Calgary, which drew nearly 100 pro-pipe­line sup­port­ers.

Chair­man and CEO Steve Kean ac­knowl­edged Morneau’s com­ments Wed­nes­day as he re­it­er­ated the com­pany’s po­si­tion.

“We re­main stead­fast in our pre­vi­ously stated prin­ci­ples: clar­ity on the path for­ward, par­tic­u­larly with re­spect to the abil­ity to con­struct through Bri­tish Columbia, and en­sur­ing ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion of our KML share­hold­ers,” Kean said.

“While dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing, we are not yet in align­ment and will not ne­go­ti­ate in pub­lic.”

‘IG­NOR­ING THE RISKS’

B.C. Premier John Hor­gan has vowed his gov­ern­ment would use ev­ery tool at its dis­posal to block the pipe­line, cit­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

“The fed­eral fi­nance min­is­ter is try­ing to use our gov­ern­ment as an ex­cuse, as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment puts tax­payer money on the line to back­stop risks to pri­vate in­vestors, while com­pletely ig­nor­ing the risks to B.C.,” he said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

“We are act­ing well within B.C.’s rights to de­fend our en­vi­ron­ment, and the tens of thou­sands of jobs and bil­lions of dol­lars of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that depend on it.”

Not­ley has re­peat­edly said she would do what­ever it takes to get the pipe­line to tide­wa­ter built, in­clud­ing buy­ing the project out­right.

Ot­tawa has also com­mit­ted to the project, with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in­struct­ing Morneau to sit down with Kinder Mor­gan and come up with fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions.

Not­ley lauded Bill 12 — the Pre­serv­ing Canada’s Eco­nomic Pros­per­ity Act — as a way to strate­gi­cally de­ploy Alberta re­sources. It in­cludes a sun­set clause to re­strict the en­ergy min­is­ter’s pow­ers to two years.

“Alberta will be equipped with new tools to as­sert our rights to con­trol the flow of our re­sources to Bri­tish Columbia,” she said.

She first warned of the bill to choke off oil ex­ports in March, hear­ken­ing back to a move by for­mer premier Peter Lougheed.

In 1980, the Lougheed gov­ern­ment en­acted leg­is­la­tion to re­strict Alberta’s oil ex­ports to On­tario by 15 per cent in a re­tal­ia­tory move against the Na­tional En­ergy Pro­gram. It re­sulted in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s rene­go­ti­a­tion of the pro­gram.

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