Supreme Court rules against BC bill that could impede Trans Mountain expansion

Clay Curtis
January 18, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously dismissed British Columbia's proposal to limit the amount of heavy oil shipped across the province.

If B.C. had been successful they could have been in a position to block heavy oil from moving through the pipeline, throwing into jeopardy the multi-billion dollar project and expansion that the federal government bought from Kinder Morgan in 2018.

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the case, the court said in a statement.

"The Trans Mountain pipeline project is the only project that would require a hazardous materials permit under the proposed legislation".

The Supreme Court of Canada building, located in downtown Ottawa.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), issued a statement saying the organization is "pleased, but not surprised" by the ruling against B.C.'s appeal - which it described as "a challenge that was meant to block the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline".

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan welcomed the ruling, saying it is a core responsibility of the federal government to help get resources to market and support good, middle-class jobs.

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Later previous year the B.C. court told the government it should reconsider its stance on the project, which is the only pipeline project that has received the approval of the federal Canadian government.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took immediately to Twitter to express gratitude for the court decision.

It intends to sell it back to the private sector after the expansion is complete.

"We are very pleased with this outcome and look forward to construction continuing on the Trans Mountain Pipeline", he wrote. The expansion would be especially helpful to companies focused on production - like Cenovus Energy Inc., MEG Energy Corp., and Athabasca Oil Corp. - and have little to no refining capacity to cushion the blow from lower prices.

A panel of judges on the Federal Court of Appeal last month reserved its decision after hearing arguments from indigenous groups that the Canadian government had failed to properly consult them on expanding its oil pipeline.

Cabinet approved the expansion a second time last June after undergoing additional consultations and environmental review.

Although construction on the pipeline is underway, there remain other barriers to its completion, including a legal challenge by Indigenous communities affected by the construction.

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