The federal government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada was meant to overcome political uncertainty. The Federal Court of Appeal’s recent decision overturning the approval for the pipeline’s expansion has significantly changed the economic and political calculus.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has announced that until the project is put back on track, her province no longer intends to participate in the federal climate plan. She declared that any climate change plan must be “paired with very intentional efforts to build our economy, to create jobs, and to support Alberta” — meaning a completed pipeline. Firmly placing the bell on the federal cat, she insisted that: “… the federal government is going to have to use its legislative authority to speed the process along.”

Many legal and regulatory experts have voiced concerns that Canada’s overlapping environmental regulatory processes have become so complex that, even with the direct participation of governments, the hurdles cannot be overcome. Like the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, the now-nationalized Trans Mountain project passed every regulatory test attributable to the proponent. The regulatory failings identified by the courts have consistently originated not with proponents, but with agencies of the federal government.

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Ron Wallace and Rowland Harrison – Financial Post – September 12, 2018.



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