The energy company Enbridge is hoping to reverse the flow of an oil pipeline, 'Line 9', so that it can carry tar sands crude from Sarnia to Montreal. If the project is approved it would, for the first time, allow dirty crude oil to be pumped through Toronto, as well as many environmentally sensitive areas in Ontario and Quebec. View Environmental Defence's graphic.
The chance of an oil spill in this aging pipe, given the corrosive nature of tar sands crude oil ("hot liquid sandpaper"), is very high, nearing certainty. An oil spill could be devastating not only for fragile ecosystems and rare species in Ontario, but would also threaten the drinking water of the city of Toronto.
We do not believe Canada will become an energy superpower by exploiting the tar sands, as energy in the 21st century must come from carbon-free sources, not carbon-intensive sources that are tied to deforestation and desertification. Therefore, we are working to oppose the approval of the pipeline's reversal, as it can only damage Toronto, the provinces, Canada and the planet.
Simply put, they believed that environmental laws were too focused on protecting the environment and they wanted this changed. This was only found out a year later by an Access to Information Request by Greenpeace.
This bill removed the legal need to conduct Environmental Assessments of pipeline projects, smoothing the way for Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline reversal proposal. It also changed the National Energy Board process, to restrict public participation and expedite the proceedings. It contained many of the law changes that the fossil fuel lobby groups had requested ("demanded") a few months before.
This omnibus budget bill was criticized strongly by Canadians from nearly every sector of society: all opposition parties, academics, First Nations, charities and the media. Although the bill received over 700 suggested amendments, the Harper Govt refused to accept any changes to the bill, and forced the bill through parliament. The Bill became known as the Environment Devastation Act.
The List of Issues specifically states: "The Board will not consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline."
Toronto350.org responds to the List of Issues, asking for changes. The NEB ignores all of our requests. We send out a press release, which, along with press releases from other groups, declares the process illegitimate without the changes being included.
The application form is part of a 23-page PDF, of which the application form itself is 10 pages, and requests both DV and references. There is a two-week window in order to complete and submit the application form, through which Toronto350.org applies to comment.
Again, the NEB process is criticized for being anti-participatory. For a TedX talk about "Redefining Apathy" - it's not that people don't want to participate and have a voice in these issues, it's that the process intentionally excludes participation and puts people off.
Read Toronto350.org's Line9 Letter of Comment here.
Toronto350.org had a block in the rally (pics), which marked the final day of the NEB's so-called public participation process.