Toronto350.org Pledges Action on Climate Crisis as NEB Approves Pipeline

For immediate release - Friday March 7th, 2014

Toronto350.org is calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to review its decision to approve Enbridge Inc's proposed Line 9B Reversal. Despite any conditions the NEB may have placed on Enbridge's plan, Toronto350.org is insisting on a full environmental assessment of the project. As part of this assessment due consideration must be made regarding the climate implications of the project. As per changes in the Environmental Assessment Act of 2012, an assessment is not required as no new pipeline segments or pumping facilities are being constructed. The amount of physical change to the environment resulting from the proposal has been wrongly determined as insufficient to trigger an assessment.

Toronto350.org represents thousands of supporters in the Toronto area. The group campaigns for institutional divestment from the fossil fuel industry and is vowing to continue its efforts in the struggle against tar sands pipelines. This is an escalation in its campaign against climate destabilization. The grassroots organization makes the case that there are moral and scientific reasons for climate impacts to be made a part of the Environmental Assessment Act. The Act already considers the impacts of proposed developments to water, air quality, human health and species at risk. The movement of fossil fuels to market meets the definition of 'physical change' as does its downstream use. These factors warrant an environmental assessment in their own right.

Toronto350.org acknowledges that the National Energy Board answers to the Conservative administration, whose climate and environmental policy is morally bankrupt. The newest Federal budget grants $28 million dollars to the NEB to expedite its review of proposed projects like Enbridge Inc.'s Line 9. The Federal Government has also spent tens of millions of public tax dollars on advertising tar sands development. This includes a budget increase to $16.5 million in 2013 and a newly inked campaign worth $22 million that was recently exposed in The Star. In addition, the Federal Government, including Steven Harper and Environment Minister Joe Oliver, has spent considerable energy lobbying for tar sands oil in Washington and Brussels – all in an effort to mystify the massive, immediate and disastrous long-term effects of continuing to extract bitumen in Alberta.

Toronto350.org reiterates its July 13 letter of comment submitted to the NEB. In the letter, the organization stated: “We oppose the [Enbridge] application for two main reasons: because of the local risks created by the project in the short- and medium-term, and because of its indisputable long-term contribution to dangerous climate change.”

A community report about Line 9 entitled 'Not Worth The Risk' was published in February 2014. The final draft of this report will be released Friday March 7, 2014. It was drafted by a coalition of concerned local environmentalists. Some key points in that report which pertain specifically to Toronto350.org's mission are:

  • Climate destabilization and the accompanying increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events are significant impacts from the transmission of fossil fuels. Neither the NEB, nor Enbridge has taken the downstream use of the transmitted product into account.
  • Individuals or groups wishing to involve themselves in the NEB process were required to submit a lengthy and confusing application. The process to become an intervenor is unnecessarily complex and presents significant challenges to the public. This confusing, bureaucratic process is designed to favour industry over people, community and health.
  • Many impacted parties, including those whose houses and property are located adjacent to the route of Line 9 were not made aware of the proposed project and the NEB hearings until it was too late for them to become involved.

“We strongly endorse the ‘Not Worth the Risk’ community report that details gaping holes in Enbridge’s due diligence and the lack of consultation with key stakeholders,” said Toronto350.org president Stuart Basden. Toronto350.org, a network affiliate of the global 350.org grassroots climate movement, considers itself and its parent organization to be one of the aforementioned unconsulted stakeholders. The organization is planning further steps to protest today's decision while also setting its sights on new proposals such as TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline. The organization is planning further actions to raise awareness about the economic risks of a carbon economy as well as the lack of Federal regulation governing Canada's carbon emissions.

Toronto350.org is a local group that is part of the global 350.org network, which has a presence in over 180 countries around the world. “350” stands for 350 parts per million, the safe upper limit of carbon in the atmosphere.