British Columbia political alliance vows to block pipeline expansion

Tue May 30, 2017 8:46pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - The two parties set to take power in Canada's Pacific province of British Columbia vowed on Tuesday to block Kinder Morgan Inc's plans to expand an oil pipeline, setting up a fight with energy-rich Alberta and the federal government.

The Greens and left-leaning New Democrats, or NDP, who have sealed a deal to unseat Liberal Premier Christy Clark following an inconclusive election, oppose plans to almost triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain line's capacity.

The parties said they would use "every tool available" to stop the expansion of a pipeline designed to carry crude from Alberta's oil sands to the west coast.

Prolonged battles over Trans Mountain and other crude pipelines are raising questions over the viability of new energy projects in British Columbia. Clark conceded on Tuesday she was facing defeat, giving the New Democrats and Greens, who hold 44 of the 87 legislative seats, a chance to govern.

Alberta's premier warned against attempts to veto the pipeline, ratcheting up political tension that helped undermine the stock market debut of Kinder Morgan's Canadian unit.

While there is some dispute over whether British Columbia has a formal veto right, it can raise hurdles that could effectively make the pipeline impossible to build.

British Columbia Greens leader Andrew Weaver said the new government would be consulting provincial bureaucrats on issues around permitting.

The province could revoke the project's environmental assessment certificate, deny routine construction permits or introduce laws to subject the pipeline to more assessments, said University of British Columbia law professor Jocelyn Stacey.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO --  Dump trucks are parked near crude oil tanks at Kinder Morgan's North 40 terminal expansion construction project in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada November 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo