B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. ready to fight back against Alberta fuel restrictions

‘No legal right,’ Environment Minister George Heyman says

The B.C. government is watching Alberta’s move to restrict shipments of fuel across its borders, and plans to fight any measure that would push up fuel prices that are already at record highs in the Lower Mainland.

“I’m not counting on Alberta taking extreme or unlawful actions, but if they do, we’re prepared to defend British Columbia’s interests with every legal means available,” Environment Minister George Heyman said Monday. “We believe they have no legal right to do so, and if they do that, we’ll examine exactly what legislation they bring in. If we believe it’s flawed legally, we’ll certainly take them to court.”

Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd introduced a bill in the legislature Monday to give it new authority to require licences from fuel shippers. It would apply to the export of natural gas, crude oil and refined fuels across Alberta borders.

RELATED: New Alberta law would allow fuel restrictions

Called the “Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act,” the legislation gives Alberta the ability to choose which shippers need a licence for petroleum products including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, whether by pipeline, rail or truck.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the action is a response to B.C.’s efforts to restrict diluted bitumen shipments in B.C. by opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“This is about protecting the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Albertans and our ability to keep Canada working,” Notley said. “We did not start this fight, but let there be any doubt we will do whatever it takes to build this pipeline and get top dollar in return for the oil and gas products that are owned by all Albertans.”

RELATED: Pipeline protesters to face criminal contempt charges

In the B.C. legislature Tuesday, opposition MLAs pressed Premier John Horgan on his Sunday meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. Horgan said he used the meeting to press the federal government to “close the gaps” in coastal oil spill protection.

In Ottawa, Conservative MPs demanded and got approval for an emergency debate on the Trans Mountain project Monday night.

The flurry of political activity began when Kinder Morgan, the owner of the 60-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline, announced April 8 that it was suspending all non-essential spending on the project. The company gave a deadline of May 31 for governments to clear the way for the twinning of the pipeline, which Trudeau and Notley have pledged to see completed.

– with a file from the Canadian Press

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