Premier Rachel Notley is calling British Columbia’s proposed move to limit the shipment of diluted bitumen from oilsands “political game-playing”.
On Tuesday, the B.C. government announced additional measures to protect the province’s environment from spills. The first phase was approved in October 2017 and established a standard of preparedness, response, and recovery necessary to protect their environment. The second phase is a five-step approach which includes restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until “the behavior of spilled bitumen can be better understood.”
In a release, Notley says their government is now grasping at straws.
“Rash actions like these send a message to the world that in B.C. and in Canada the rules are not what they might seem, and therefore jeopardize investment decisions and hundreds of thousands of jobs across of range of important industries.”
“Therefore, the action announced today (Tuesday) by the B.C. government can only be seen for what it is: political game-playing. But it’s a game that could have serious consequences for the jobs and livelihoods of millions of Canadians who count on their governments to behave rationally and within their scope of authority,” said Notley.
An independent scientific advisory panel is now being established to make recommendations on if and how heavy oils can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.
“The potential for a diluted bitumen spill already poses significant risk to our inland and coastal environment and the thousands of existing tourism and marine harvesting jobs,” said George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a release.
While the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion wasn’t named in B.C.’s release, many see this latest move as creating more uncertainty for the already delayed project.
Looking to Take Legal Actions
On Wednesday, Notley called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss potential legal action against B.C.
While speaking to her fellow ministers, she mentioned the fact this could lead to repercussions specifically with interprovincial trade in electricity.
“The B.C. government has acted rationally in a way that threatens jobs and investment not only in Alberta but in B.C. as well.”
Notley says her officials have been preparing for legal action and economic responses since last summer if this day would ever come.
She adds they are potentially taking this route to protect the jobs of thousands of workers across both provinces.
In the near future, the provincial government is planning on contacting the federal government to gain support ahead of B.C’s decision.
“We simply expect our fellow citizens to play by the rules and allow us to get a fair return on our products.”
Federal Government Regulates Trans Mountain
Terry Abel, Executive Vice-President of Operations at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, tells Mix News it’s important to remember it’s a federally regulated pipeline.
“This is not a B.C. regulated pipeline and aside from the practices and the systems put in place for land-based spill response they have no role in the operation of the pipeline.”
“Clearly they want to ensure, as they’ve committed to the people of B.C., that they have world-class spill response and remediation capability in that province,” said Abel.
Abel adds he doesn’t think this helps investor confidence in Canada when there are different views on how to regulate and manage pipelines.