Alberta Calls out B.C. After Pipeline Expansion Suspension

April 9, 2018 Updated: April 9, 2018    

CALGARY—The future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was cast in doubt on Sunday as Kinder Morgan Canada suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the project in the face of mounting opposition from British Columbia.

With the company citing its decision largely on the B.C. government’s legal challenges to the pipeline and the need to protect its shareholders, the federal and Alberta governments pushed Premier John Horgan to abandon his promise to do whatever his government can to stop the project.

“The government of Canada calls on Premier Horgan and the B.C. government to end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion,” federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a news release. “His government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy.”

In Edmonton, Premier Rachel Notley said Alberta would consider taking on an equity stake in the pipeline if Kinder Morgan investors are considering backing away.

“If we have to, Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built,” said Notley, without discussing the dollar value of such an investment.

“Alberta is prepared to be an investor.”

Kinder Morgan’s move will be seen as a blow to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has insisted the pipeline will be built. The expansion, which would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., was approved by the federal government in 2016.

The company said it will consult with”various stakeholders” to try and reach an agreement by May 31 that might allow the project to proceed, adding it needs “clarity” on its ability to do construction in B.C. and protect its shareholders.

Kinder Morgan has spent about $1.1 billion on the $7.4-billion project so far.

Horgan said he spoke with Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson, who told him the project has been “unnecessarily harassed” by British Columbia.

“I told him I disagreed,” Horgan said.

The B.C. premier said he also spoke to Trudeau and planned to speak to Notley, but his position on the pipeline hasn’t changed.

“I want to say to all Canadians that I profoundly believe in the rights of British Columbians to stand up and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the interests of our province,” he told a news conference in Victoria Sunday.

Protesters block a gate outside Kinder Morgan before RCMP officers moved in and arrested them for defying a court order, in Burnaby, B.C., on March 17, 2018. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

 

On Sunday, Notley also described the B.C. government’s position as short-sighted.

“If I was a resident of B.C., I would be very worried about what this says about the investment climate in British Columbia,” she told a news conference at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. “How can the economy of British Columbia be built when every private investor considering a project must weigh the risk that the provincial government will conduct itself in the way that it has on this matter?”

Notley called on Trudeau to take more “concrete action” to get the pipeline built, adding that legislation is coming in the next few days to give her the power to turn down the taps on oil headed to B.C. Other retaliatory actions, such as a renewed ban on B.C. wine, are also being contemplated, she said.

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