Pipeline fight continues, federal decision does not reduce spill risk: Horgan

VICTORIA _ The politician leading the charge against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline says the fight will continue in court, regardless of who owns the project.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said Tuesday the federal government’s decision to take over the pipeline from Kinder Morgan doesn’t change his government’s position and it will proceed with its reference case to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Horgan said the case was never about who owns the pipeline, but whether B.C. has the right to protect its environment from the impact of a bitumen spill, and Ottawa’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline does not reduce the risk.

The province is asking the Appeal Court whether it has the right to regulate the transportation of hazardous substances inside its borders. Horgan said the fact the pipeline is about to be owned by a federal Crown corporation doesn’t affect the case.

“It does change it from a federally approved project to a federally undertaken project, but the reference case … did not speak to a specific project,” he explained. “It spoke to the transportation of diluted bitumen through British Columbia by rail or by pipe. So our reference case remains.”

The pipeline expansion would triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. Kinder Morgan had placed a Thursday deadline on getting a guarantee it could continue with the project without delays, prompting Ottawa to step in.

Horgan said the deadline placed on construction of the pipeline wasn’t something that affected B.C.

“The federal government has made a choice, a decision that was motivated by the decisions of a private company that gave a deadline, not to me, not to the people of British Columbia, but to someone they characterized as stakeholders,” he added. “The federal government has responded and that’s their business.”

Horgan said the federal government’s decision to take over the project puts Ottawa in charge of managing every aspect of the pipeline, including its risks.

“On this critical question, the federal government is completely accountable and I think at the end of the day that is probably a good thing,” he added.

Horgan did not discourage people in B.C. from protesting against the pipeline.

“I encourage them to continue to express their disappointment within the rule of law,” he said.