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Kinder Morgan CEO says Trans Mountain may be untenable; Notley, Kenney clash

Last Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 5:10 am MDT

Trans Mountain supporters in Calgary on March 23rd. (660 NEWS)

There’s even more uncertainty regarding the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, this time from its company’s CEO.

In a conference call Wednesday, Steve Kean explained that earlier this month, non-essential spending on the project had been suspended because investment may be “untenable for a private party to undertake.”

Kean added the ongoing battles between the governments of British Columbia and Alberta had reinforced those views.

Shortly after Kean’s comments in a standing committee meeting on Alberta’s economy, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney pressed Premier Rachel Notley about her confidence in the project’s future.

“Why she is so much more optimistic than the actual company trying to build a pipeline, which an hour ago said, that the project may be untenable notwithstanding discussions about government investments,” he said.

Notley said the reason why is because all the important players are at the table including the federal government and the company itself.

“I’m not going to negotiate in public with Kinder Morgan,” she said, adding she has the greatest respect for the company as they continue discussions.

But Kenney referenced Notley responding to the company’s suspension of non-essential funding, as well as her meeting on Sunday with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He reiterated Kean’s comments that provincial and federal investment aren’t relevant because certainty has to be ultimately resolved in British Columbia.

“Does she disagree with the president of the company that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars?” he asked.

But Notley once again said the right people are at the negotiating table to ensure the certainty for the pipeline.

“There was not a table that was focused on determining that at the previous times that you outlined, but there is now,” she said. “I am going to refrain from the almost celebratory type of engagement that you are trying to predict the demise of the project, because I believe that we are in a very sensitive time.”

Kean also said on the call that discussions had begun over financial backing, but wouldn’t go into detail until a definite agreement had been made or the discussions have ended.

Wednesday also saw the British Columbia government announce it would be filing questions of jurisdiction with the Provincial Court of Appeal by April 30th in its latest attempt to stop the project.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said he is waiting to see what specific questions B.C. puts forward, but from his perspective there is no question about who has jurisdiction.

“We assert the federal jurisdiction that has been asserted by us before and it’s also been commented upon by courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said. “We think that federal jurisdiction’s clear, we’re looking at legislation to see how we could enhance that.”

As the Liberals go over its legislation, the Alberta NDP will soon be tabling its own bill to limit oil shipments to B.C.

Kinder Morgan has set a date of May 31st on deciding whether or not to move forward with the pipeline.