A aerial view of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward)

Appeal Court to decide on B.C. pipeline law that would impact Trans Mountain

The hearing has concluded and a panel of five judges has reserved its decision

A British Columbia Court of Appeal hearing on proposed provincial legislation that would impact the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has concluded and a panel of five judges has reserved its decision.

B.C. filed the reference case to ask the court whether it can create a permitting system for companies that wish to increase the amount of heavy oil they are transporting through the province.

The system would allow a provincial public servant to impose conditions on permits, which B.C. says would help it protect its environment and ensure that companies agree to pay for accident cleanup.

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act are unconstitutional because Ottawa — not the provinces — has jurisdiction over inter-provincial infrastructure.

READ MORE: National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Federal government lawyer Jan Brongers told court the amendments are clearly intended to impede additional oil shipments through B.C. because they only target heavy-oil transporters that want to increase capacity.

Joseph Arvay, lawyer for B.C., said in his reply on Friday that the goal of the legislation is not to block Trans Mountain and the court should not presume the law would be used inappropriately in the future.

“There’s no evidence to support that theory at all,” he said.

Arvay added B.C. already has environmental assessment legislation that applies to inter-provincial projects, and a ruling that found the proposed amendments interfere with federal jurisdiction would also mean that law doesn’t apply.

The Canadian government has purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and related assets for $4.5 billion. The expansion would triple the capacity of the line that runs from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver and increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

B.C. Premier John Horgan campaigned in 2017, while in opposition, on a promise to use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop the expansion. But after his minority NDP government took power, it received legal advice that it cannot stop the project but it could impose conditions upon it, court heard.

This is a “distinction without a difference,” given that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional, said William Kaplan, representing a consortium of energy producers including Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd., Husky Oil Operations Ltd. and Cenovus Energy Inc.

When Horgan announced the proposed permitting regime last year, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley accused him of breaking the rules of Confederation and announced a ban on B.C. wines, which she later reversed.

A lawyer for Alberta told the Appeal Court that the permitting scheme is a “vague, amorphous” process that gives wide-ranging discretionary powers to a government official. Peter Gall said B.C. believes the only way to protect its environment is to stop the pipeline expansion.

Trans Mountain ULC also said the legislation is targeting the project and will “directly and significantly” impact it.

Justice Harvey Groberman questioned lawyers who argued the goal of the legislation was to stop the project, asking why such a declaration was necessary if the argument that it impedes federal jurisdiction holds up.

The National Energy Board conducted a years-long review involving dozens of interveners before recommending the federal government approve the project with 157 conditions. After the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the approval last summer because the board failed to consider marine shipping impacts, the board recently looked at the topic and added another 16 conditions.

However, Arvay said the energy board has been found to do inadequate followup with companies to ensure that conditions are being met. He added that B.C.’s proposed regime and that of the NEB are “complementary and interlocking” and can be harmonious.

The government of Saskatchewan, several First Nations, Enbridge Inc., the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Railway Association of Canada also delivered arguments opposing B.C.’s proposed rules at the five-day hearing this week.

The cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, environmental group Ecojustice, the Assembly of First Nations and the Heiltsuk Nation presented cases in support of B.C., with the Indigenous groups asserting that First Nations governments have the right to make these types of rules in their communities as well.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Island Midget Eagles get their feet wet against Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The North Island Midget Eagles travelled down island to face off against the Bulldogs.

Council agrees to purchase emergency generator for Civic Centre

The loan will have to be repaid within five years, with no rights of renewal.

Candidates illuminate different visions of Port Alice’s future

The candidates were asked if they believed the pulp mill could run again.

VIDEO: Terry Fox Run returns to Port Hardy for the first time since 2016

All told, Port Hardy’s Terry Fox Run raised $2,200.30 with more still coming in.

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the North Island-Powell River riding

In an effort to inform the North Island-Powell River riding constituents, we… Continue reading

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Charges dropped against Mountie involved in shooting death of Surrey man

‘I feel like I’ve lost Hudson all over again,’ says mom

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Most Read