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Report: Alberta court reserves ruling on federal carbon tax

Alberta's top court has put off ruling on a sweeping federal carbon tax, the Canadian Press reported.

After three days of hearings the Alberta Court of Appeal reserved its ruling on the case, the news agency said. The judges on Dec. 18 told lawyers for Alberta's government, which brought the case, and the federal government that they would rule on the legality of the so-called backstop tax on emissions as soon as they could but not before Dec. 20, according to the Canadian Press. The federal tax on emissions from consumer goods, including motor fuel and natural gas for home heating, goes into effect in Alberta Jan. 1.

Alberta challenged the tax on constitutional grounds, claiming emissions levies are a provincial issue and accused the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of overreach. The federal government has contended that climate change is an existential threat and its mitigation is a national issue. Saskatchewan and Ontario have already challenged the tax at the provincial level and lost. Appeals of those rulings are set for the Supreme Court of Canada in 2020.

Alberta, which is home to oil sands producers such as Suncor Energy Inc., already has a tax on large emitters that complies with the federal program but refuses to apply the tax at the consumer level. The federal government levies the backstop tax on provinces that it deems have inadequate emissions-reduction strategies and plans to return most of the revenue in the form of climate change-mitigation programs.