People's Hearing on the Tar Sands Pipeline

A community-based response to Enbridge's line 9 phase I proposal

Maryam Adrangi’s statement

The Line 9 Reversal Project is a bad idea. Shipping tar sands through a pipeline which was meant mainly for natural gas is an accident waiting to happen. It poses great risk to water, land, animals and humans.

The pipeline, originally built in the 70s because of an ‘energy crisis’, was constructed quickly and with a sense of urgency to provide energy to central and eastern Canada. Very much like the railway, it was an attempt to ‘unite Canada’ through industrial development. Hopes that an industrial project can ‘unite’ people is incredibly narrow minded, particularly when we see people become united by actually fighting such a project to protect their water, homes, livelihoods, and communities.

This pipeline does not and will not ‘unite’ communities. It will threaten them. The pipeline would bring tar sands crude through southern Ontario and allow for expansion of Alberta’s dirty oil industry. The tar sands industry has a multi-pronged approach to destroying communities. As labour is shipped to Alberta from elsewhere in Canada and abroad, we see that communities are broken as people are forced to leave their homes, family, and friends to find jobs. Local, sustainable economies and sectors are not given the same opportunity, through political subsidies and financial investment, to flourish. Instead, the Conservative government and the oil and gas industry expect labour to be centralized in Northern Alberta to help an export-driven economy.

Line 9 is part of the larger Trailbreaker project which is one of the many avenues through which Harper plans to export oil to the United States. The Trailbreaker Project would bring crude through the United States, before entering Line 9 (just part of the larger project) in Ontario, then through Quebec and back down to the USA. The pipeline project ends on the east coast of the USA. This would increase tanker traffic in Portland, Maine and increase the risk to drinking water and the local environment there as well. The pipeline project is also opposed in Maine.

It is also no coincidence that this is all being done while Canada continues its neo-liberal free trade negotiations with Europe as part of the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), as well as lobbying EU parliamentarians to scrap the EU Fuel Quality Directive (EU FQD) which would regulate the type of energy resources EU receives. This is part of a larger initiative to sell more crude and generate more private funds at the expense of mainly poor, mainly indigenous communities. The EU has been heavily lobbied by Canadian politicians to buy Alberta oil, regardless that the FQD is an attempt to meet international climate agreements and play an active role in mitigating climate change. Canada does not only want to pollute more, but they are undermining other nation-states’ attempts to transition off fossil fuels and stop harmful greenhouse gasses from furthering a global catastrophe.

Tar sands crude creates more greenhouse gasses than conventional oil in production and burning; it is more ecologically destructive to water resources and much more difficult to clean up than conventional oil, as it does not stay on the surface of the water table as does conventional oil. This puts many communities at risk at the expense of income for a select few. Not only does it impact communities living along the route of the pipeline, but also the many communities who live downstream from any of the rivers and streams that the pipeline crosses.

Companies can continue to assure people of the alleged safety of these pipelines and paint opponents as paranoid whistleblowers; however, these companies have actually not proven themselves trustworthy. In the past decade, Enbridge has averaged over one accident a week. This is an unacceptable amount of toxic substances entering the environment. The damaged areas can never be fully reclaimed back to the healthy ecosystems they once were. And this is just one pipeline company, and the same one that is linked to the Line 9 project.

That any decision maker would knowingly put people at huge risk and danger is unacceptable. If the review board decides to go through a regulatory process, they are denying the serious health impacts that communities could face at the expense of private profits. As people who are granted legitimacy to say no, when they themselves are not directly impacted, the review board has a responsibility to ensure that they use the precautionary principle and regulate. The process has often been referred to as an ‘approval process` since many of the projects end up getting approved. While these projects continue to get approved, communities continue to face the consequences.

The Line 9 project is one more opportunity for corporations to show that they have no regard for the wellbeing of people. Their main and only focus is their profits and they are willing to take underhanded means to get there.

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