Pipeline plan back on tap: opponents
By MICHELLE LALONDE,
August 26, 2011
Enbridge seeks transit to Maine
Enbridge Pipelines Inc. is quietly trying to make an end run around a proper
assessment of its controversial Trailbreaker project to pipe tarsands oil across Canada to Montreal and then on to the United States, according to three Canadian and two U.S. environmental groups.
Enbridge Trailbreaker Project
The groups are filing a complaint with the National Energy Board on Friday
charging that by breaking the project down into smaller phases, starting
with reversing the direction of oil flow in an Ontario section of its
pipeline, Enbridge is trying to avoid a full assessment of its project.
Enbridge had put its Trailbreaker project on hold two years ago because of
the economic climate. That project would have used existing pipelines to
ship tarsands oil from northern Alberta across Canada to Montreal, so that
it could be shipped south to Portland, Maine. Currently, these pipelines
bring conventional oil from Portland to Montreal, and then west.
But environmental groups are concerned that the project is back in piecemeal
This month, Enbridge sought an exemption from a section of the National Energy Board Act for a project the company calls "Line 9 Reversal Phase 1."
The $17-million project would reverse the direction of crude flow in the
section of pipeline from Sarnia to North Westover, near Cambridge, Ont. In
its application, the company seeks an exemption from certain provisions of
the National Energy Board Act, noting "any potential adverse environmental
or socio-economic effects are not likely significant, and are outweighed by
The documents say the project is necessary "in order to meet business
demands of shippers."
A spokesperson for Portland-Montreal Pipeline told The Gazette Thursday that plans are under way to reverse the flow of one of its Portland to Montreal pipelines as well.
The five environmental groups -Environmental Defence, the Pembina Institute,
Équiterre, Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Natural Resources
Council of Maine - are asking the Energy Board to reject Enbridge's request
on the grounds that it would undermine the public's and stakeholders'
ability to adequately assess the overall effects of the Trailbreaker
They say a full review of the Trailbreaker project would examine the air and
water pollution effects of refining tarsands oil at the Montreal Suncor
refinery as well as refineries in Ontario, and force Enbridge to consult
with First Nations groups, landowners and non-governmental organizations
across Canada and in the U.S.
The groups are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and
the potential for spills in the pipeline. They note the Line 9 pipeline is
relatively old, built in 1975, and made of the same material used in
pipelines that ruptured in Michigan last year and Alberta this year.
Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre said Enbridge should be more transparent
about what it is trying to do, especially in Quebec, where the government
has clearly stated its intention to reduce reliance on oil.
If the Trailbreaker project is allowed, Guilbeault said, some of the
tarsands bitumen would be refined into petroleum at Montreal's Suncor
refinery. Refining bitumen produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions
as does refining conventional oil.
"Quebecers would now be encouraging the production and consumption of the
dirtiest fuel on the planet. We should be working to reduce oil dependency
and the oil we burn should be as clean as possible. We would become
complicit and that goes against everything we are trying to do in Quebec."
Guilbeault said the groups want the National Energy Board to look at the
whole project, and assess effects on all the communities involved, including
east-end Montreal, which already has an air pollution problem.
"We feel it's a bit cheap on the part of Enbridge to try to sneak around
these important issues," he said.
A call to Enbridge was not returned, but a spokesperson for the Portland
Montreal Pipeline system did confirm that plans are in the works to revive
the idea of reversing the flow of oil between Portland and Montreal as well.
"We are having discussions with Enbridge on that topic and gauging the
interest of the industry in having us resume work on that project," David
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