NEWS

B.C., Alberta premiers cancel pipeline meeting

11/05/2013 02:11 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST
The warming trend in the frosty relationship between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford appears to be cooling once again, after a meeting planned for today to discuss pipelines was cancelled at the last minute.

Clark and Redford were scheduled to discuss the progress of a joint energy export plan Tuesday in Vancouver, following the Alberta premier's address to the city's Board of Trade. 

The meeting was supposed to be the next step in healing the B.C.-Alberta pipeline rift, which had appeared to be healing this summer when the two appeared in public sharing takeout coffee and looking friendly and relaxed.

Instead, there appears to be a major setback for the talks. Both provinces say behind-the-scenes talks haven't made enough progress to warrant Clark and Redford meeting in person again.

Redford said in a news release late Monday that there is still work to be done.

Frosty relationship continues

Last year, Clark described Redford as "frosty" after the two met to discuss Clark's concerns about the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.

At the heart of the dispute is B.C.'s demand for a fair share of the benefits from any new pipeline project that passes through the province.

Public backlash over the proposed pipeline prompted Clark to put in place five conditions that had to be met before any new pipeline would be approved.

Clark says B.C. would be assuming the majority of the environmental risk and should be compensated.

B.C. insisted that the Northern Gateway project meet several conditions, including strict environmental standards and assurances B.C. would receive a fair share of the economic benefits.

When the two met this summer in Kelowna, it appeared the feud was ebbing as both Clark and Redford said they had identified shared goals like opening new markets and expanding export opportunities for oil, gas and other resources.

B.C. seeks 'additional benefits'

On Monday, Redford said Alberta thought that if it met British Columbia's conditions for the Northern Gateway pipeline to bring oil to the coast, it could proceed.

But now British Columbia says it wants to "'negotiate additional benefits,'" she said.

"Alberta understood that B.C.'s five conditions were designed to ensure responsible energy production and safe transport to new markets," Redford said.

"Alberta's firm belief is that meeting those conditions gives projects the social licence to proceed, as well as clear economic benefits for B.C. They also could mitigate the risk of increased shipments through B.C.

"It is now clear that B.C. is seeking to negotiate additional benefits.

Redford does not say what those additional benefits would be, but talks about putting additional charges on industry.

She said it's not clear why B.C. thinks Alberta is the partner with which to negotiate.

"If the government of B.C. decides to place additional charges on industry, that go beyond the federal and provincial restrictions on responsible resource development, this is not something for the government of Alberta to negotiate — it is for the government of B.C. to negotiate directly with producers and industry," Redford said in the news release.

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