EDMONTON – The Alberta government wants a seat at the table in any future legal fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Premier Rachel Notley’s government, in its throne speech Thursday, announced it will seek intervener status on legal challenges to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
“It’s important that we get these pipelines built, that we get shovels in the ground,” said Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd.
“We’re standing up for our industry.”
The $6.8-billion Trans Mountain project would triple the capacity of the line that runs from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver, increasing tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet seven-fold.
The project has the green light from the National Energy Board, the federal government, and the B.C. government, but faces legal challenges from environmental groups, municipalities and First Nations.
In January, the City of Vancouver council members voted to go ahead with a judicial review of the province’s environmental assessment of the project.
The Squamish Nation, the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation have filed their own applications for judicial review of the project.
McCuaig-Boyd said the province is focusing on court hearings at the federal level for now but has not ruled out seeking to speak out at lower levels as well.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said the projects meets all five of B.C.’s conditions, including First Nations participation and the creation of oil-spill prevention and response plans.
Alberta sees the Trans Mountain line, and other pipelines to the coasts, as critical to easing the bottleneck that is depressing oil prices and affecting not just the provincial economy but the national one.
The province says it needs to reduce its reliance on North American oil customers and will fetch a better price if it can go overseas.
Alberta is now rebounding from a prolonged slump in oil prices that forced tens of thousands out of work.
Last November the federal government approved not only Trans Mountain but Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, taking Alberta oil to Wisconsin.
TransCanada reapplied in January to have its Keystone XL project approved — to take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast — after being invited to do so by U.S. President Donald Trump.
If built, the combined extra capacity of nearly 1.8 million barrels a day would provide enough room for all of western Canadian production expected by 2030.