Supreme Court dismisses B.C. case against Trans Mountain pipeline
CALGARY — The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously rejected British Columbia’s move to regulate the flow of heavy oil across its borders on Thursday, an outcome which resolves one of the last court challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
After all-day hearings Thursday, Supreme Court justices unanimously dismissed B.C.’s appeal of a lower court decision, which found that interprovincial trade is federal jurisdiction and the flow of commodities like heavy oil and bitumen should be overseen by federal regulators.
The Supreme Court did not give reasons for its decisions but the March 2019 British Columbia Court of Appeal did explain why it rejected the B.C. government’s reference case.
“At the end of the day, the (National Energy Board) is the body entrusted with regulating the flow of energy resources across Canada to export markets,” Justice Mary Newbury wrote in her decision, which also noted “the TMX project is not only a ‘British Columbia project’.”
“The project affects the country as a whole, and falls to be regulated taking into account the interests of the country as a whole,” she wrote.
The reference case was widely seen as an attempt by B.C. Premier John Horgan’s NDP government to thwart the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline project is the only project that would require a hazardous materials permit under the proposed legislation. That is no coincidence,” said Maureen Killoran, a partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acting on behalf of Trans Mountain at the Supreme Court on Thursday.