British Columbia threw down the gauntlet when its government said it will fight Kinder Morgan using any legal means available to permanently suspend the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Now Kinder Morgan, the operator of the pipeline, has revealed it has no intention to go gently into the good night of B.C.’s opposition.
In a letter to the province’s PM, John Horgan, the president of the company, Ian Anderson, said the motives that B.C. has given for its opposition to the expansion project were questionable, adding that new rules for oil shipments proposed by the government last week were in conflict with already completed reviews.
At the end of January, the environmental ministry of British Columbia devised new rules for oil spill preparedness and response. As part of their journey from proposal to regulation, the ministry will set up a scientific advisory panel to look into whether a diluted bitumen spill in the water could be cleaned up. While the panel pursues this matter, the ministry has proposed a ban on any increase in heavy crude shipments.
This has irked Kinder Morgan, especially since the project was in 2016 approved by the federal Canadian government. In his letter, Anderson, therefore said that “we have initiated a technical and legal review of whether the suggested provincial initiatives could apply lawfully to a federally regulated Project.”
The situation has escalated quickly, casting a shadow on Canada’s reputation as “a nice guy”. In fact, things grew into a partial trade war, after Alberta retaliated for the new rules by suspending imports of B.C. wine. This prompted the head of the national association of oil producers to call on the federal government to step in and resolve the situation, begging provincial governments to stop politicizing the issue. The latter call followed a suggestion from the leader of the Alberta conservative party to stop all oil shipments west and cut natural gas supplies.