Hearings begin before Supreme Court on federal environmental impact assessment law

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Arguments are underway before the Supreme Court of Canada in a long-awaited case over the federal Impact Assessment Act.

The court is expected to hear from legal experts and environmental groups that support the law.

Nine of 10 provinces, led by Alberta, argue that the law intrudes on provincial jurisdiction.

Alberta is particularly concerned about the effect the law might have on its ability to export its oil through pipelines.

Last May, the Alberta Appeal Court ruled the law was outside federal jurisdiction.

This week’s hearings are an appeal of that decision.

Alberta justice minister Tyler Shandro said Alberta will present its arguments to the Supreme Court on Wednesday as part of the two-day hearing.

“This — no more pipelines — act is a threat to the long-term economic prosperity of our province, our energy industry and the entire country. We want to grow investment in Alberta, not have it driven away by unbalanced, unpredictable new rules for major projects.

“Over the past 25 years, our province has contributed $400 billion more to the federal government’s revenues than it has received in federal spending. In 2021, Alberta was the only province that made a positive net fiscal contribution to the federation. Albertans paid $394 million more in taxes to the federal government than they received in federal spending,” Shandro said in a statement Tuesday.

“Any damage to the Alberta economy caused by the ‘No More Pipelines’ act will be felt across the country.”

“But this act doesn’t just harm the economy. It is also a violation of the exclusive constitutional jurisdiction of provinces and territories to control the development of their natural resources,” Shandro wrote.

“Last May, Alberta’s Court of Appeal ruled that the Impact Assessment Act was unconstitutional in a 4-1 decision. Seven other provinces are joining Alberta as interveners in this case and to defend provincial rights.

“Alberta began the fight against this act while it was still a bill before Parliament, and we will continue to use every tool available to stand up for Albertans’ interests. Alberta is speaking up for a strong provincial and national economy and pushing back against federal intrusion on provincial jurisdiction.”

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