Victoria Vancouver Island British Columbia - B.C.'s official Opposition is warning that one of the unintended consequences of stopping the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would be an increase in the shipment of bitumen by rail.
Abbotsford West Liberal MLA Mike de Jong says moving raw bitumen on trains could be much more damaging to the environment than shipping it by pipeline.
"There tend to be more spills, greater volumes, and what we know is that, with production increasing significantly and pipelines at capacity, more and more of that crude bitumen is going to move by rail through B.C. towns, through the Fraser Canyon. And that is putting British Columbians and, ironically, the environment at risk."
The government has conceded that it has limited power to reduce the amount of oil that can be moved on trains.
During question period on Tuesday the Liberals raised concerns over the 1984 train derailment that led to copper ore concentrate and wood chips spilling near the Chilliwack train station.
But Premier John Horgan says his government is not in favour of an increase in bitumen shipment across the province by rail or pipeline.
Horgan added that fear mongering over potential rail spills is not helpful in the ongoing debate.
"I'm not responsible for 1984, I am responsible for 2018," Horgan said.
"And rather than resort to hyperbolic language and threats I am going to the courts like any reasonable human being would do, and I am trying to seek resolution on who has the jurisdiction."
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is also against the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning.
Weaver says the risk of a spill "lies in the way diluted bitumen behaves in an ocean spill" rather than on land because there is no sufficient scientific evidence on whether a marine spill could be cleaned up.
"In the House, the MLAs for Abbotsford West and Chilliwack-Hope implied that their communities are at risk due to bitumen shipments by rail, stoking fears that a Lake Megantic-style disaster could befall them if the Trans Mountain pipeline does not go through," said Weaver in a statement.
"This is patently false, the truth is that the train in the Lake Megantic tragedy was loaded with highly combustible Bakken crude, not heated bitumen or undiluted heavy crude."
The BC Liberals also raised the issue on Tuesday of Alberta imposing comprehensive inspections on 100 percent of the commercial vehicles on entering Alberta.
It is unclear what the consequences of that action would be on the trucking industry.
This comes as the federal cabinet grapples with how to deal with the B.C. government standing in the way of the pipeline twinning.
Kinder Morgan has given Ottawa until 31 May 2018 to deal with British Columbia or else it is threatening to walk away from the project.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr spoke very briefly to reporters following an emergency cabinet meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday.
"We are prepared to look at many options and that has not changed," Carr said.
"We believe that there will be many options that will be interesting to the government of Canada and we will look at them all carefully."
The federal government is exploring various options to punish British Columbia for standing in the way of the pipeline including cutting transfer payments to the province or stalling the funding of major projects like transit.
"The question is not whether the pipeline is going to get built, the question is how the pipeline gets built, and we are at looking at all options," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following Tuesday's cabinet meeting.