Groups seek standing at NEB
Friday deadline in pipeline review
More than a dozen groups, people and municipalities have so far filed applications to participate in the National Energy Board’s review of a project to reverse the flow of a pipeline between Montreal and Ontario.
They include people who own land crossed by Enbridge’s Line 9B pipeline, industry representatives, members of First Nations, the union representing oiland-gas-industry employees, an Ontario municipality, the Sierra Club Canada environmental organization as well as regular citizens.
People have until noon on Friday to complete a 10-page application form requesting to take part in the NEB hearings. The company wants to reverse the flow in the 639-kilometre pipeline, increase its capacity and be permitted to transport heavy crude oil — known as bitumen — from oilsands operations.
The pipeline runs across the east end of the island of Montreal, through Laval north to Terrebonne and then west to Westover, Ont., west of Hamilton, passing through the city of Toronto.
Under changes made last year to federal environmental laws, only people or organizations that are “directly affected” or can provide relevant information will be allowed to participate in NEB hearings. The NEB will review the applications and decide who can participate.
The Line 9B project, and another Enbridge project in Alberta, are the first projects to be reviewed by the NEB since the changes came into effect. For the Line 9B project, people had two weeks to apply to participate. In the Alberta project, they were given five weeks to apply.
The timeline is different for the two projects because the one in Alberta involves the construction of a new pipeline, said NEB spokesperson Whitney Punchak.
The Line 9B project did not require the NEB to hold either oral or written hearings, but the agency decided to do so because of the amount of interest in the pro- ject, Punchak added.
The applications that had been submitted to the NEB by Tuesday raised concerns about the climate-change effect of using oil from the oilsands and potential spills from the 37-year-old pipeline that could affect drinking water, land and waterways along the pipeline’s route.
“I am concerned for the potential rupture of the pipe and the resulting contamination of my property, means of livelihood and necessities of survival with the contents of the pipe, thus resulting in severe illness or death of myself,” wrote Andrew Ages of Toronto.
Industry representatives, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, say the project must go ahead in order to give Canadian oil producers access to markets.
“The connection between the proposed project and CAPP’s members is direct and the likelihood of harm if the project is not approved would be severe since growing oil supply requires increased market access,” CAPP wrote in its application, adding “the magnitude of harm is enormous.”
One applicant took issue with the NEB’s new way of screening participants for the hearings. “If this section is half as demeaning to you as NEB professionals as it is to me, then I commiserate with you that you are compelled to ask it,” wrote Ottawa resident Martin Laplante, who wrote that he has a PhD in chemistry and has spent “decades in the field of policy research.”
“The time to determine my credibility and the likelihood that what I say is true and relevant is not before you hear it but afterward.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no applications from Quebec among the 19 listed on the NEB website.
Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet has said Quebec would do its own environmental review of the project, but has yet to provide details.