As B.C. Premier John Horgan continued to call for calm in the pipeline dispute with Alberta, his Attorney General David Eby scoffed at its threat to restrict fuel shipments to B.C.
Eby said Tuesday his ministry has reviewed Alberta’s legislation, presented Monday to give the province new authority to require licences for pipeline, rail and truck shipments. He said the bill is “unconstitutional on its face” and he can’t imagine a situation where Alberta would try to use it.
“Clearly the legislation is a bluff,” Eby told reporters at the B.C. legislature. “They don’t intend to use it. If they did try to use it, we would be in court immediately, seeking an injunction to stop them from using it. But we’d probably have to get in line behind oil companies that would be concerned about contracts that they have with companies in British Columbia to deliver product.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley indicated the licence restriction option will be there “if Alberta needs it” to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proceeds. Its owner, Kinder Morgan Canada, has sought assurances by the end of May that legal and other roadblocks to twinning the pipeline are removed, suspending non-essential spending on the $7 billion project until then.
The situation escalated further Monday as Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe indicated he will follow Alberta’s lead and provide for similar measures to restrict fuel shipments to B.C.
“If fuel tanks in British Columbia start to run dry because Alberta has turned the taps off, it won’t be Saskatchewan filling them up,” Moe said in a social media post.
The Trans Mountain pipeline has operated between Alberta, B.C. and Washington state since the mid-1950s, delivering gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as well as crude oil. Since the late 1980s it has intermittently shipped diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands, which is the product B.C. opposes being shipped in larger amounts by tanker.
In the B.C. legislature, opposition MLAs continued to press Horgan and his ministers on the situation, asking about ongoing backups of lumber, grain and other commodities on rail lines.
Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston said he has written to CN Rail about the severe backlog of forest products in the B.C. Interior, and has been told the problem is a shortage of rail cars for grain and lumber.