Case comment: Reference re Environmental Management Act (British Columbia): One step forward for Trans Mountain

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On May 24, 2019, the British Columbia Court of Appeal (Court of Appeal) released its highly anticipated decision in Reference re Environmental Management Act (British Columbia).1 In a unanimous 5-0 decision, the Court of Appeal held that the Province of BC does not have the constitutional authority to enact amendments to the provincial Environmental Management Act that would have required the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) to obtain a hazardous substance permit before transporting increased amounts of heavy oil across BC. This case is significant because it has removed, for now at least, one of the barriers to the development and construction of TMX. It has also provided some clarity to the roles that the federal and provincial governments may properly play in the regulation of interprovincial pipelines, and more broadly, in the complex area of environmental regulation.

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