The Court is also reconfirming the authority of the National Energy Board to regulate the transportation of energy resources across the country and abroad, particularly with respect to environmental issues.
"The Trans Mountain Project is not just a" British Columbia project, "says Judge Mary Newbury. It affects the entire country and must be regulated taking into account the interests of the entire country. "
Newbury JA noted that Victoria's proposed amendment to the Environmental Management Act (BC) is not complementary, but rather "contrary to rules of federal jurisdiction".
It notes that the Bill poses a direct threat to the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia : " It is not a law of general application, but (a law) that targets a substance in a pipeline (interprovincial). "
British Columbia Premier John Horgan was disappointed with the decision and confirmed that his government would refer the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. "We believe we have the authority to legislate," he says.
A constitutional question
The NDP government in Victoria had asked the courts last year about changes it would make to its environmental management act.
These changes would have created a licensing system for companies that want to increase the volume of crude oil passing through British Columbia.
Under this system, a provincial authority could have imposed conditions to protect the environment and to ensure that companies pay for cleaning as a result of accidents.
In its decision, the Judge notes that, as soon as it came into force, the Act could have prevented pipeline activities.
In court, provincial attorney Joseph Arvay pointed out the risks posed by the transportation of oil and the need for levers in the event of a spill.
"The provinces are powerless to prevent these risks and powerless to impose measures to reduce or eliminate these risks," he said. British Columbia does not have to accept such a fate. "
Crown attorney Jan Brongers described Victoria's plan as a "Trojan horse".
"This is a plan that has been designed to appear as constitutionally acceptable environmental measures," he said. In fact, its only purpose is to limit the transportation of heavy oil by pipeline or by rail, legislated by the federal government. "
While recognizing the environmental risks caused by the pipeline, the judges decided rather on the side of the federal government.
This would have the potential, and in fact would stop, the Trans Mountain operation as an interprovincial oil carrier and exporter.
A controversial pipeline
The expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline between the Edmonton area and Greater Vancouver would triple the capacity of the pipeline, which has been in existence since 1953. The Alberta government sees the project as essential to export its oil out of the province. country.
After years of evaluation, the expansion has been approved by the National Energy Board (NEB) under 157 conditions. Following the cancellation of the Federal Court of Appeal's approval last year, the NEB re-examined the project and added 16 new conditions to its approval to reflect the impact on shipping.
The pipeline was bought last year by the Canadian government from Kinder Morgan for $ 4.5 billion.