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Canada  

Yes to gas, no to bitumen

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is fighting to both retain and restrict Alberta energy imports because while the existing shipments are vital to his province, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would see the unrefined oilsands oil go somewhere else.

"The proposal to twin the pipeline is not to send more product to the Lower Mainland, but to export to other jurisdictions," Horgan told reporters after a meeting of western premiers wrapped up Wednesday in Yellowknife.

"There's a distinct difference between those two things. One is diluted bitumen. The other is gasoline or jet fuel to be used by (B.C.) citizens to move around freely."

He made the comments after he was asked to explain why his government is going to court to determine if it has the right to regulate heavy oil imports while at the same time trying to stop Alberta from curtailing existing oil shipments to B.C.

Horgan denied a suggestion that his government's position is selfish.

"Not at all," he said, stressing that they are two separate issues.

Horgan joined leaders from other western provinces and territories to discuss a range of shared concerns from cannabis legalization and pharmacare to market access.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley declined to go, saying she's too busy trying to strike a deal to ensure Trans Mountain is built.

She sent deputy premier Sarah Hoffman, who declined to sign off on the meeting's closing statement. Hoffman said Alberta didn't endorse the document because there was no statement affirming support for Trans Mountain.

She said while she wants to proceed with the issues discussed at the meeting, it is folly to talk about how to spend money while ignoring critical issues on how to raise it.

"Talking about market access without talking about Trans Mountain ... is irrational" said Hoffman.

The line, which would twin an existing pipe and triple the amount of oil heading from Alberta to the coast, was approved by Ottawa in 2016, but has hit permit delays and legal challenges from Horgan's government.

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day.

The pipeline builder, Kinder Morgan, has ratcheted back spending on the $7.4-billion project, citing B.C.'s obstruction tactics. The company says it needs assurance by May 31 that the line can get built.

Notley told reporters Tuesday that Horgan's logic is head-spinning — he wants the fuel on one hand, but is trying to keep the oil out on the other.

"I think the tone between the two of us is strained," Horgan said. "This is not personal for me. It’s about my responsibility to make sure that I’m doing my level best to protect our economy, our environment."



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