VANCOUVER — Environmental legislation proposed by B.C. is specifically targeting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and would significantly impact it, the project’s proponent and the Alberta government argued Thursday.
The B.C. Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the government can amend its Environmental Management Act to create a permitting system for companies that increase the amount of heavy oil they’re transporting through the province.
B.C. has argued the amendments are not intended to block the project. They are being made to protect the environment from spills and require companies to pay for damages.
But a lawyer for Trans Mountain ULC said B.C.’s motive is to obstruct the expansion.
“Trans Mountain will be directly and significantly impacted by the proposed legislation. Indeed, we say it is the target of the proposed legislation,” Maureen Killoran told a panel of five judges.
Killoran said Trans Mountain, which has operated since 1953 and runs from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver, is the only pipeline that transports liquid petroleum to the West Coast and the only pipeline to which the legislation would apply.
The proposed law presented more risk than private-sector proponent Kinder Morgan was willing to accept, prompting it to sell the pipeline to Canada for $4.5 billion last year, she said.
Since the plan to triple the pipeline’s capacity was first proposed in 2013, it has been through the largest review in the National Energy Board’s history, a number of court challenges and faced protesters and blockades, Killoran said.
The energy board ruled the expansion is in the public interest because the country cannot get all its available energy resources to Pacific markets, she said.
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