Construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The expansion project has been the subject of an intense political confrontation. Source: Kinder Morgan Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and BC Premier John Horgan emerged from a “pipeline summit” in Ottawa April 15 smiling and cordial, but their inability to reach agreement on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion project guarantees more legal and political clashes in the not too distant future.
Trudeau’s decision to have the Canadian government introduce legislative changes to strengthen federal authority over pipeline regulation was criticized by Horgan and now has drawn the ire of Quebec, long a champion of provincial rights. Canada and Alberta also pledged to provide financial backstopping for the pipeline in order to remove the uncertainty that caused Texas-based Kinder Morgan to suspend “non-essential spending” just over a week ago.
The meeting was called by the Prime Minister, who cut short a trip to Peru to attend, because of the escalating feud between Alberta and British Columbia. The core of the disagreement is Horgan’s desire to restrict or stop shipments of diluted bitumen through his province while a science advisory committee studies and reports on the state of marine spill response, which is federal jurisdiction. So, too, are interprovincial pipelines like the existing 300,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) Trans Mountain pipeline, which would be twinned and capacity expanded to 890,000 bbl/d. Trudeau has promised the new pipeline will be completed and he has vowed to protect his government’s jurisdiction.