Premier John Horgan and the government of British Columbia have kept firm on their Kinder Morgan pipeline stance, having submitted a reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal yesterday.

The reference question concerns British Columbia’s rights to protect their coast’s autonomy, particularly when it comes to the regulation of environmental and economic impacts of heavy oils transported through the province.

Result of March Announcement

In March, the government announced they would be seeking legal counsel to prepare a reference case related to B.C.’s rights to protect their land and water.

“We have asked the courts to confirm B.C.’s powers within our jurisdiction to defend B.C.’s interests so that there is clarity for today and for the generations to come,” said Horgan.

“Our government will continue to stand up for the right to protect B.C.’s environment, economy and coast.”

The B.C. government proposed that the court review proposed amendments to the Environmental Management Act which would give the Province authority regarding the impact of heavy oils, such as diluted bitumen.

They state that if these heavy oils were released into the environment, it would impact thousands of jobs, communities, and ecosystems.

The reference is the latest attempt by Horgan to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a project which has support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government.

The outcome of these proceedings will be crucial in determining what, if any power British Columbia has in fending off the federal interests of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

As it stands, Kinder Morgan has halted all non-essential operations regarding the pipeline, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has suggested that each day of non-operation costs Canadians $40-million.

Spill response procedure and accountability are primary concerns

Though Horgan has taken a strong anti-pipeline stance, it appears his primary concern is that an appropriate spill response procedure is in place if the federal government does push the Kinder Morgan pipeline through.

He also wants to ensure that proper compensation is in place for the impacts of the spill, whether it be economic, cultural, or recreational.

In February 2018, the second phase of public consultation began on the Environmental Management Act, with these four proposed regulations:

  • Ensuring timely responses following a spill.
  • Geographic response plans to ensure resources are available to support an immediate response, which considers the unique characteristics of a given sensitive area.
  • Compensation for loss of public use from spills, including economic, cultural and recreational impacts.
  • Maximizing application of regulations to marine spills.

BC’s tourism and ocean industries are also of high concern. Over 19,000 tourism businesses operate in the province, employing over 130,000 people, while fisheries and seafood contribute $660-million each year to the province’s gross domestic product.

Do you have an opinion?

The public input phase is open until April 30th. You can have your say here!