With just over 24 hours notice, OPIRG-Peterborough organized an emergency “Stop Line Nine” protest in light of the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line pipeline.
Over 50 people showed up to Confederation Park, across from city hall, to protest the decision.
Several dignitaries made it out to support the protestors and give speeches. OPIRG-Peterborough Coordinator Matthew Davidson gave one, while Calvin Beauchesne gave another on behalf of Sustainable Trent.
Speakers urged protesters to support further protests and acts of civil disobedience against the decision, as well as to support those who are arrested for doing so.
After half an hour of protesting in the park, the group took to the streets, marching south on George Street.
Several motorists indicated their support by honking and waving at the protestors.
The Line Nine pipeline runs from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec, crossing under the 115 Highway, just south of Peterborough.
According to a press release from OPIRG, “this will allow the tar sands to transport heavy bitumen to the east coast for export” for the first time.
The release also called the tarsands “the most environmentally destructive project on the planet.”
The pipeline will move 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day eastward.
“Enbridge’s profits will be coming at the expense of our planet and at the expense of the people who live near the tar sands and by the pipeline,” Jesse Whattam, a local organizer, said. “It is a disgrace that such a destructive project would be approved.”
The Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter of the Council of Canadians also issued a press release condemning the National Energy Board’s decision.
They stated that they are “urging Premier Wynne to prevent the controversial project from going forward.”
At the protest, concerns were raised by Davidson as to the safety of such a pipeline in a speech he gave to the crowd.
According to Davidson pipelines are environmentally dangerous and prone to spills.
In a testimony to the National Energy Board, pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz stated that Line 9 has a high risk of rupture and that Enbridge still hasn’t finished cleaning up after its last massive diluted bitumen spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010.
Despite this, the National Energy Board released a statement saying “the board’s conditions require Enbridge to undertake activities regarding pipeline integrity, emergency response, and continued consultation.”
They insist that with these conditions in place for Enbridge, the project will be safe.
But those who made it out on Friday didn’t agree with this sentiment.
Protests against the decision occurred elsewhere across Ontario, most notably in Queen’s Park in Toronto.