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Alberta to Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Ensure Trans Mountain Project, Says Premier

The Alberta government moved Monday to put teeth into the campaign to restart the stalled Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (KML) Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

Provincial Premier Rachel Notley and Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd kept promises to legislate new power to cut oil, refined products and natural gas deliveries to project opponents.

The bill enables creation of an Alberta “export license” requirement for out-of-province shipments by any means -- pipeline, railway or truck -- to consumers elsewhere in Canada. The power would be kept in reserve, ready for immediate use to fight any escalation of British Columbia (BC) government resistance against Trans Mountain.

“We did not start this fight,but let there be no doubt we will do whatever it takes to build this pipeline,” said Notley.  “This is about protecting the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Albertans and our ability to keep Canada working.”

The addition to the Alberta legislative arsenal responds to a threat issued over the winter by BC authorities to restrict Trans Mountain flows to its Pacific coast tanker terminal at Vancouver for the duration of a marine safety and spill response inquiry.

The BC government has vowed to seek legal confirmation in the courts that the Canadian constitution grants provincial power to champion the environment and aboriginal rights. The Alberta and federal governments dispute the BC claim.

The jurisdictional feud prompted KML to suspend the scheduled spring start of large-scale, high-cost construction as of April 8. The company set a May 31 deadline for a settlement to clear away political risk from the C$7.4 billion ($5.9-billion) plan to triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to 890,000 b/d.

The BC government has since made no new moves, either to stiffen or soften opposition to the project. Negotiations are underway on an array of undisclosed options, including Alberta and federal offers of financial “de-risking” assurances including potential government ownership interests.

The new Alberta authority to control out-of-province oil and gas traffic deliveries will be enforced to the extent that pipeline opponents provoke responses, said the provincial energy minister. “The powers in this legislation are not powers Alberta wants to use, but we will do so if it means long-term benefit for the industry, for Alberta and for Canada,” said McCuaig-Boyd.

As Alberta talked tough, the BC Prosecution Service adopted a hard line against protesters who stage shows of defying a court injunction against interfering with a Trans Mountain work site in Burnaby, a Vancouver satellite city.

Acting on a BC Supreme Court judge’s recommendation, the service Monday converted civil contempt of court citations against about 200 demonstrators into criminal prosecutions. Special prosecutors were also appointed to conduct cases involving two BC members of Parliament, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and New Democrat Kennedy Stewart.

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