B.C. to take proposed legislation on pipeline regulations to Supreme Court
The province of British Columbia announced that it would appeal a court ruling against proposed legislation that could negatively affect the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
In response to the provincial government's request for a constitutional reference ruling, the B.C. Court of Appeal found unanimously that it was not within the Legislature's authority to amend B.C.'s Environmental Management Act to regulate and limit the amouht of heavy oil that could flow into the province. Such a decision would be in conflict with the federal jurisdiction over pipelines that transport oil interprovincially, the court determined.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby said the province would take the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"We thank the B.C. Court of Appeal for considering this reference. Our government said from the outset that we would stand up for British Columbia's environment, economy and coast. Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity would be put at risk by a diluted bitumen spill," Eby said in a statement. ""While we are disappointed with the decision, our courts have an important role to play in upholding the rule of law. That is why we referred this question to the courts in the first place. Our government always said this case would likely be heard before the Supreme Court. In fact, we asked the federal government to join us in a joint reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. We continue to believe that we have the authority and the responsibility to defend our environment and economy, so we will exercise our right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."
BC Leader of the Opposition Andrew Wilkinson and BC Liberal Attorney General critic Michael Lee said the decision was a clear statement to Premier John Horgan and the provincial NDP that they should stop trying to block the pipeline.
"While British Columbians spend the summer paying the highest gas prices in North America, John Horgan and David Eby will keep spending tax dollars to file more lawsuits trying to block a federally-approved pipeline that will increase supply and create jobs. The NDP needs to finally start respecting our constitution and listening to the people rather than making up rules to please their activist friends and insiders," Wilkinson and Lee said in a statement. "This is yet another warning that it's time for John Horgan to end the fight he's picked with Alberta and the rest of Canada, where he promised to 'use every tool in the toolbox' to stop this project. The only toolboxes needed here are the ones the men and women of British Columbia will be using to get to work on this pipeline."
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also encouraged the B.C. government to allow the expansion to move forward without further court cases and delays.
"John Horgan has said many times that this reference and the other legal challenges to the pipeline are 'about the rule of law.' We agree, and in light of the court's decision, we hope that the B.C. government will respect the rule of law and end its campaign of obstruction," Kenney stated. "The TMX pipeline would be a win-win for both B.C. and Alberta. It will allow Alberta to realize a fair price for our natural resources and create new jobs, and it could provide much-needed relief at the pump for British Columbians. That is why this court decision is an occasion for real hope for the hard-working people of both provinces."
The federal government has set a deadline of June 18 for Cabinet to make a decision on whether it will approve the pipeline expansion, barring further court challenges.