Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Oregon Energy Director Janine Benner, from left to right, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, B.C. Premier John Horgan and California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matt Rodriquez attend a news conference in Vancouver on Friday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The governor of Washington says his state is “allied” with B.C. in questioning whether the Trans Mountain pipeline should be expanded.

The project poses a threat to waters off the West Coast, which Washington residents view as a treasure, and the state is looking at marine safety laws that would help mitigate the impact of a tanker spill, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday at a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan and officials from Oregon and California.

“We are hopeful that the premier’s efforts to allow the voices of his citizens to be listened to will be successful, because it is very much in common with our citizens,” Inslee said, adding that residents in his state recently rejected proposals for both coal and oil ports.

Inslee commended British Columbia for leadership on climate protection. But he said Trans Mountain may be a federal policy that “shoots Canada in the foot” and reverses some of the work the province has done.

Alberta and B.C. have been locked in a battle over the future of Kinder Morgan’s $7.4-billion plan to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna acknowledged Friday there are differences over the pipeline, but she said it was approved by Ottawa after extensive reviews and it will be built.

“We did that review by increasing engagement with communities, by meaningful consultation with Indigenous Peoples, by looking at the science and the evidence and also looking at the project in the context of our climate plan, and we approved that project,” she said in Victoria.

“The project was also approved by the previous B.C. government and we think the project should go ahead.”

B.C. is asking the courts to determine if it has jurisdiction to limit how much diluted bitumen can flow through pipelines in the province.

The members of the Pacific Coast Collaborative met in Vancouver on Friday to mark its 10th anniversary and agreed to add drug overdoses and trade to the list of issues considered vital to the four jurisdictions.

The forum was created in 2008 to encourage joint action on matters like climate change and the environment but the group also wants to confront what Inslee calls the ”scourge of substance-use disorders.”

A news release from the premier’s office says they are also committed to ending the stigma and discrimination associated with addiction and substance-use disorders.

Later on Friday, Horgan announced B.C. will contribute $300,000 towards a study with Washington state on the potential for a high-speed rail line connecting Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and other cities beyond. Washington has approved funding of up to US$1.2 million towards the new study.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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