Experts question Alberta power threats to BC as pipeline politics intensify

Posted February 05, 2018

At the heart of the fight between the two provinces is Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.'s plans to almost triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline, a project that will bring landlocked Alberta bitumen through suburban Vancouver to overseas markets.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government is suspending talks with British Columbia on the purchase of electricity from the western province.

Notley said the move is unconstitutional and illegal - and argued it's a federal issue. "We will stand by our decision".

"We know that getting our oil resources to new markets across the Pacific is absolutely essential.We need this pipeline and we're going to move forward with it responsibly like I committed to", Trudeau was reported to state.

The expansion project would triple capacity along the pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic off the coast seven fold.

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The federal government needs to have a serious discussion with B.C. officials, said Alberta Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive Ken Kobly.

"The federal government has already taken several steps to implement a world-class oil spill response system", the statement added.

The leader of Alberta's Opposition, Jason Kenney, made some suggestions on Wednesday about what he would do to penalize B.C., but Notley says his ideas would hurt Albertans.

For B.C.to potentially lose up to $500 million a year on the sale of that extra power, as Notley suggested Thursday, would mean some very high assumptions, said Shaffer.

"One of the things to remember is we have a federal government to look out for the national interest above various disagreements within the provinces".

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained his support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Friday during a heated town hall in British Columbia, reiterating his stance that the project is in Canada's national interest.

"The Kinder Morgan pipeline is not a danger to the B.C. coast", he said.

"I don't see what the problem is", Horgan said Thursday at a school opening north of Kelowna, B.C.

According to constitutional law, Trudeau could pull rank and make the project expansion happen through legal sanctions, said Adams, but it's more likely that the dispute will be resolved in the courts.

"I would encourage the B.C. government to actually read the NEB ruling that talks in great detail about what they claim to be concerned about, about the risk of bitumen spills".

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He noted at this point, B.C. has just pledged to consult. He said the federal government heard from thousands of people before the pipeline was approved.