A federal judge in Canada suspended a law giving Alberta the ability to restrict shipments of oil and gas to other provinces.
The Federal Court ruling, on September 24, granted British Columbia a temporary injunction putting Alberta’s so-called turn-off-the-taps law on hold until it receives a full judicial review.
“Certainly having the injunction in places provides some relief to British Columbians who may have been concerned about an impact on fuel prices by a restriction from Alberta,” British Columbia Attorney General David Elby said after the ruling.
Alberta’s government has never used the powers under Bill 12 since it became law in April. But Premier Jason Kenney had suggested it might in response to opposition from British Columbia’s government to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
“This does not mean energy shipments will immediately be reduced but that our government will now have the ability to actually use the law should circumstances require,” Kenney wrote in a May op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun.
British Columbia’s government has opposed the expansion of the TransMountain Pipeline on environmental grounds. The province, which has some of the highest fuel prices in Canada, nevertheless relies on the pipeline for its supply of oil products from Alberta.
British Columbia is arguing that the law violates Canada’s constitution. “On our reading of the constitution, Alberta is not allowed to restrict the flow of refined product to other provinces in a way to punish them for political positions,” Elby said.
Alberta, for its part, has argued that it has the right to regulate the flow of its energy supplies, and that the law isn’t targeting any particular province.
Bill 12 established a licensing system allowing for the government to control the flow of crude oil, refined oil and gas products being exported from Alberta via pipeline, rail or truck.
While the legislation itself does not differentiate interprovincial shipments and foreign ones, it is not clear that Alberta would have the authority to restrict international exports.