Bill to limit oil exports to B.C. no bluff, Alberta energy minister says

Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd says a new bill giving her the power to limit oil exports isn’t a bluff, despite what the attorney general of British Columbia suggests.

“We’ve introduced this bill and we absolutely intend to use it if we need to,” McCuaig-Boyd told reporters at the Alberta legislature on Tuesday.

Bill 12 gives McCuaig-Boyd wide discretionary power to limit shipments of oil, gas and refined products to B.C. and to specify how they are shipped.

For example, she could decide B.C. gasoline shipments should go by rail or truck in order to free up pipeline capacity for bitumen. Such a move could cause a dramatic spike in gas prices.

The Alberta government says it intends to limit exports if B.C. continues to put up roadblocks to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. 

B.C. Attorney General David Eby told reporters at the B.C. legislature Tuesday that the bill is unconstitutional.

He said Alberta knows this and has no intention to ever use the measures in the bill.

“Clearly the legislation is a bluff, they don’t intend to use it,” Eby said. “If they did try to use it, we would be in court immediately seeking an injunction to stop them from using it.”

The majority of gasoline used in B.C. is shipped from Alberta through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

Bill is constitutional, minister says

Eby said his government is trying to decide whether they should refer Alberta’s draft bill to the court prior to its passage, or challenge it when after it is proclaimed into law.

B.C. could also wait and file an injunction if McCuaig-Boyd issues a license limiting shipments of product to B.C., he said. 

McCuaig-Boyd said Alberta has obtained a legal opinion stating the bill is constitutional.

“I’m very confident that we’re on strong ground with this,” she said.

McCuaig-Boyd said the bill isn’t directed at B.C., but Eby said statements made from ministers suggest otherwise.

Alberta MLAs won’t get a chance to debate Bill 12 until the first week of May.

The Alberta and federal governments are in talks with Kinder Morgan on ways to give the company financial assurances the Trans Mountain pipeline project will go ahead.

The company cited resistance from the B.C. government when it announced recently it was halting all non-essential spending on the project.

Kinder Morgan has set May 31 as its deadline for deciding whether it will proceed with the Trans Mountain project.

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