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B.C. government launching court case on legality of proposed bitumen ban

Environment Minister George Heyman and Premier John Horgan address the media about Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's ban on imports of B.C. wines on February 7th. Photo by Global BC/Facebook
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VICTORIA, B.C. — Premier John Horgan announced today that the provincial government will be moving forward with consultations on safeguards to oil spills on the West Coast, and will also be referring the outstanding issue around B.C.’s proposed ban on increased diluted bitumen shipments to the courts.

Premier Horgan says his government will be retaining expert legal counsel to ready a reference to the courts, adding that it may take several weeks to bring the reference forward. He said the reference will seek to reinforce B.C.’s constitutional rights to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill.

“We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” said Horgan. “And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

Horgan also mentioned what he called a “disproportionate and unlawful” reactions from the Alberta government, specifically the decision to ban the import of B.C. wines.

“The actions by the Alberta government threaten an entire industry and the livelihoods of people who depend on it.”We have taken steps to protect our wine industry from the unwarranted trade action by the Government of Alberta. It’s not about politics. It’s not about trade. It’s about British Columbians’ right to have their voices heard on this critical issue. And it’s about B.C.’s right to defend itself against actions that may threaten our people, our province and our future.”

The Premier added that consultations will begin soon on the remaining four safeguards announced in January by Environment Minister George Heyman. These safeguards include:

  • Spill response time
  • Geographic response plans
  • Compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land
  • Application of regulations to marine spills
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