The Alberta government's final argument in favour of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline sidesteps British Columbia's main concern about the project and urges the National Energy Board to ignore critics' suggestion that the approval process should be put on hold.
In Alberta's submission to the National Energy Board on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley noted the expansion proposed by Kinder Morgan is in Canada's best interests.
"Projects like pipelines shouldn't pit one province against another – they should stimulate conversations that recognize the economic needs and positions of all provinces," she wrote.
Her letter to the board comes one day after British Columbia told the board it can't support the line as it stands, because Kinder Morgan has failed to meet the province's five conditions for approval.
In particular, Kinder Morgan has not spelled out plans on how it would deal with oil spills on land and on water, the province said.
B.C. also wants any aboriginal concerns addressed and is demanding a fair share of revenue for having the line go through its territory.
Alberta's submission makes no mention of spill response, but it does note that Alberta has a new plan to enhance its environmental credibility, including phasing out coal-fired electricity by 2030 and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by putting a price on it, among other measures.
Derek Corrigan, mayor of Burnaby, the suburban city where the expansion line would end, has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the NEB pipeline review while the federal government implements promised amendments to the way the regulator evaluates projects.
"I am now writing to request that the amendments be expedited to avoid perpetuation of the current, deeply flawed NEB process that the public and your government have already acknowledged is inadequate," he wrote in the letter sent Monday.
But Premier Notley said in her letter the board should accommodate concerns, but should "recommend approval of the project on the current timelines in order to ensure a timely final approval.
"This will allow the proponents to address those concerns and to commence building this important energy infrastructure."
Intervenors are set to present their final arguments at hearings starting next week on Kinder Morgan's $5.4-billion (U.S.) proposal to triple the capacity of its existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. On May 20, a three-member panel is set to inform the federal cabinet whether it approves the project. Ottawa then has three months to make its decision. Critics have condemned changes the previous Conservative government made to the board's review process, including setting time limits for hearings and assessments and limiting who can participate.
Trudeau promised in June to engage in a "new open process" for all pipelines, including analysis of upstream impacts and greenhouse-gas emissions.
He also said in August that a Liberal government overhaul of the NEB process would apply to existing pipelines and that the Trans Mountain expansion review "needs to be redone." B.C. Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday that her government was "mostly satisfied" with the NEB process.
"There have been some bumps in the road, certainly, in terms of our participation, but we think they've been addressed by the NEB." Premier Notley, in her letter, noted that Alberta has abundant oil resources for an expanded line. The province currently isn't getting a fair return on its oil, because a lack of pipeline capacity is restricting sales to just one buyer – the United States, she said.
"Because of limited market access, Western Canada's oil price has persistently been undervalued relative to world prices," wrote Ms. Notley.
Getting more oil to West Coast ports would allow for access to Asian markets such as China, she noted.
Filed with a staff report