VICTORIA — The Province of B.C. has hired legal counsel to begin challenging the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project.
At a news conference Thursday (Aug. 10), B.C. Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby outlined both legal and consultation steps the government will take immediate action on.
"Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.'s best interests," said Heyman in a press release. "Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs. We will use all available tools to protect our coastal waters and our province's future."
The British Columbia government hired former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger as external counsel to government to lead its legal challenges.
"We are committed to fighting for B.C.'s interests and it is government's desire to seek intervenor status in legal challenges to federal approval of the pipeline expansion and increased oil tanker traffic off B.C.'s coast," added Eby. "Mr. Berger will provide legal advice to government on the options for participation in legal challenges, and those hearings are scheduled to begin in federal court later this fall."
The province also promised to fulfil its duty of "meaningful" consultation with indigenous people concerning this project, including consultations regarding potential impacts to aboriginal rights and title.
"Going forward, we will be reviewing policies to outline how our government expects to further meet our commitments to First Nations as well as to all British Columbians with regard to defending our air, land and water," said Heyman. "This policy review will clarify government policy for decision-makers as they evaluate future permits and work plans."
In the press release, the province added it will "continue to explore other tools to hold Kinder Morgan's project plans to the high standards of environmental protection and indigenous consultation that British Columbians expect."
The Trans Mountain Expansion is a $7.4-billion construction project. The expansion would parallel the 1,150-kilometre route of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, which was built in 1953 and is the only West Coast link for Western Canadian oil. Pipeline capacity will increase from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil per day.
The project will also add approximately 980 kilometres of new pipeline and reactivate 193 kilometres of existing pipeline. To support the expanded pipeline, new facilities will include 12 new pump stations, 19 new tanks added to existing storage terminals and three new berths at the Westridge Marine Terminal.