BC NDP government hires legal advice for Kinder Morgan challenges

BC NDP government hires legal advice for Kinder Morgan challenges

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a "threat" to British Columbia, said the province's environment minister as government lawyered up.

Both Environment Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby acknowledged the challenge ahead for the B.C. government to prevent a project the federal government reiterated Thursday in a statement to the Courier that is in the "national interest".

Heyman said until consultation related to First Nations are "completed in a way that meets B.C.'s legal obligations, work on this project on public lands can not proceed".

"Because at the end of the day, no matter what actions they take, they need to be first and foremost grounded in meritorious legal actions".

Under Berger's guidance, the province will also apply to have intervenor status in another legal challenge to the National Energy Board's approval now winding through the federal court.

"We are committed to working with the province and permitting authorities in our ongoing process of seeking and obtaining necessary permits and permissions", said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited, in the statement.

"Some of the tools that were available to BC previously were given away by the previous government when they agreed to accept the National Energy Board review as its own review".

The announcement was hailed by B.C.'s Green party and environmental organizations like Greenpeace.

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But shares in Kinder Morgan Canada and Houston-based parent Kinder Morgan Inc fell soon after the minister's comments and ended down 3.7 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

Multiple First Nations and municipalities filed legal challenges against the project, which would triple the capacity for transport of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands fields and greatly expand the Kinder Morgan marine oil shipping terminal at Burnaby, just outside Vancouver. "They will be in violation of their environmental assessment certificate, the one that exists today".

The New Democrats' power-sharing deal with the Greens also pledged to fight the project, promising to use "every tool available" to stop it.

"We have undertaken thorough, extensive and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal Peoples, communities and individuals and remain dedicated to those efforts and relationships".

Berger is a former B.C. Supreme Court Justice and a former B.C. NDP leader.

The government also plans to review the ways in which resource projects are approved.

The provincial government is taking initial action on its commitment to protect British Columbia's interests in the face of the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and increased tanker traffic. Many have signed benefits agreements with Kinder Morgan.

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