Payback or coincidence? Pipeline tensions between Alberta and B.C. ramp up – Politics

VICTORIA β€” Political hurdles in the form of delays, bans and tolls have been raised in British Columbia in the weeks since the province served notice that it would temporarily ban expanded shipments of bitumen on the Trans Mountain pipeline.

While the federal and Alberta governments denied Wednesday they were moving in retaliation, B.C.’s Opposition Liberals are pointing to the coincidence of a steady stream of obstacles.

B.C.’s decision to halt increased shipments of the diluted bitumen until further environmental studies are concluded saw Alberta cut off talks to purchase $500 million worth of electricity from B.C. and then ban the province’s wine imports.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley attended the first meeting on Wednesday of a 19-member panel, which includes former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, that will look into efforts to pressure B.C. to back down from its pipeline fight.

Alberta takes on B.C. over pipeline tolls

As the task force met, Alberta’s Department of Energy issued a statement saying a recent regulatory dispute with B.C. over natural gas pipeline tolls is not connected with the Trans Mountain conflict.

In a Feb. 8 letter to the National Energy Board, the department voiced its opposition to the North Montney Mainland Extension project that would link B.C. natural gas operations with eastern markets.

“Our filing has nothing to do with the recent dispute with the government of B.C.,” said the Alberta statement. “The filing is consistent with Alberta’s past positions relating to fair and just toll principles as well as consistent, well-established and accepted pipeline tolling principles.”

The Alberta government’s denial of retaliation comes as the federal government dismissed claims that pipeline politics contributed to last Friday’s abrupt postponement of a joint B.C.-Ottawa child-care funding news conference.

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said…

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