Sask. introduces 'last resort' legislation that would restrict energy products to B.C.

The Saskatchewan government has introduced a law that, if passed, would restrict energy exports to British Columbia.

Alberta also threatening to ‘turn off taps’ through legislation

Saskatchewan Minister of Energy Bronwyn Eyre says the province will only use its bill restricting energy products to B.C. if the federal government fails to get the Trans Mountain pipeline on track. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan government has introduced a law that, if passed, would restrict energy exports to British Columbia.

The legislation has not been voted on, but Premier Scott Moe says he would like it passed before the end of session on May 31.

The government said The Energy Export Act is a response "to the inaction by the federal government to assert its jurisdictional authority to ensure the Trans Mountain Expansion Project proceeds."

The proposed law would establish a permitting process for individuals or corporations seeking to export energy products outside Saskatchewan.

"Our government will always stand up for Saskatchewan and defend the people and businesses that rely on our oil and gas industry," said Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre.

She said the permits are for transport by "truck or track" and include oil, natural gas and refined petroleum products.

The Saskatchewan government's new legislation would require permits for individuals or corporations seeking to export energy products outside the province. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

Eyre said Saskatchewan's bill will also include fines for those found in violation. She said the legislation is also similar to Alberta with a few exceptions, one of which is a sunset clause that terminates the bill as of Jan. 31, 2019.

"It's very dramatic legislation, which we feel should have a sunset clause in place to make sure that this is really to address this specific issue that we are currently facing in the country."

Alberta moves first, B.C. threatens to sue

The bill is the latest escalation in the fight to get Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, which would take oil from Edmonton to the B.C. coast, built.

The pipeline was approved by the federal government, but B.C. says it's defending its coast from a potentially catastrophic spill.

For the past several weeks, Moe has said if Alberta "turns its taps off it won't be Saskatchewan filling up the tanks."

Last week, Alberta announced legislation to restrict oil and other energy products to B.C.

In response, B.C.'s Attorney General threatened to sue Alberta if its new law caused gasoline prices in B.C. to skyrocket.

"If they did try to use it, we would be in court immediately seeking an injunction to stop them from using it, but we'd probably have to get in line behind oil companies concerned about contracts that they have with companies in British Columbia to deliver product," said David Eby.

On Monday, Eby said he would be reviewing Saskatchewan's bill and would make sure he was protecting British Columbians.

"We've reviewed the Alberta legislation, and if it's based on that legislation it's as unconstitutional in Saskatchewan as it is in Alberta."

David Eby said he would be reviewing Saskatchewan's bill. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Eyre was asked if she thought the legislation violated trade agreements. She did not answer directly but said "ultimately under the constitution we have the right to protect our energy sector and everybody knows that."

Proposed law touted as last resort

"Increasing pipeline access to tidewater would inject billions of dollars into Canada's economy. We are in this gridlock today because, in the 18 months since the federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, it has failed to ensure that construction could proceed," Eyre said.

She said the government considers Bill 126 a last resort that will be used only if the Trans Mountain pipeline continues to be stalled by provincial obstruction and federal inaction and if the Alberta government acts upon its similar legislation.

The province said lack of access to tidewater cost Saskatchewan oil producers an estimated $2.6 billion and cost the province an estimated $210 million in taxes, royalties and other revenue in 2017.

According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada from 2014 Saskatchewan traded more than $350 million of refined petroleum products to B.C.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the Provincial Affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

With files from CBC British Columbia