BC to join legal battle against Trans Mountain pipeline

NDP government won't permit Kinder Morgan to put shovels in ground on public land for pipeline

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a "threat" to British Columbia, said the province's environment minister as government lawyered up.

We haven't heard any reaction yet from the Alberta NDP.

But Heyman said Trans Mountain has yet to get approval for its environmental management plans because it didn't adequately consult First Nations, so the construction will likely be delayed. "We know, with the federal government's approval of this project, that the path forward will be challenging but we're committed to stepping up and fighting for BC's interest".

Premier John Horgan promised on the campaign trail earlier this year to use "every tool in the toolbox" to stop the project, but a mandate letter to the Heyman softened the language, saying instead that he must "defend B.C.'s interests in the face of" the expansion. The review goes ahead in November.

Multiple First Nations and municipalities filed legal challenges against the project, which would triple the capacity for transport of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands fields and greatly expand the Kinder Morgan marine oil shipping terminal at Burnaby, just outside Vancouver. Tanker traffic will increase seven times from what it is now. Hyman said eight permits have been issued but they can't be acted on until the company meets the requirements of the environmental assessment certificate issued by the previous government.

That consultation will include what potential impacts the project could have on Aboriginal rights and title - an area Berger is well versed in, having acted on behalf of the Nisga'a Nation in 1973 to argue for recognition of Aboriginal land title rights.

Eby hailed the appointment of Berger, who chaired the federal government's Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in 1974 and two other royal commissions on family law and Indigenous healthcare.

Heyman says, until the consultations have been completed and the province is satisfied that all of its obligations have been met, work on the project will not be allowed to proceed on public lands.

The Province will continue to explore other tools to hold Kinder Morgan's project plans to the high standards of environmental protection and Indigenous consultation that British Columbians expect.

Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said in a statement the company is reviewing the announcement.

The BC Liberals say the NDP's decision to try and stop the Trans Mountain Project will only cost the province jobs.

Despite the government's push for more consultation with First Nations, dozens of bands along the route and private land owners have signed agreements with Kinder Morgan, which has said it plans to begin construction in the fall.

Instead the government could ensure permits require that construction be done in a manner that cuts the risk of spills, protects the environment, and ensures effective cleanup, Eby said.

The province will retain council, and seeks to become an official intervener during future Kinder Morgan hearings.

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