By Kristen Phoeniks and Natalie Guttormsson

The approval process for “Phase Two” of Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal project is currently under way. Phase Two runs from the Westover terminal, north of Hamilton, Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec.

Part of the controversy over the reversal of the flow of Line 9 is the link to expanding the Tar Sands in Northern Alberta. Several sources make it clear that companies with stakes in the Tar Sands, and the current Canadian Government, have plans to see production tripled in the next 20 years. In order to accommodate these plans, more pipelines are needed across the country to transport Canadian oil to markets.

Enbridge has submitted a request to allow Line 9 to transport heavy crude as well as light crude. If this is approved it would allow Enbridge to transport diluted bitumen, or dilbit, through Line 9, a product of the Tar Sands. Enbridge denies this is in their plans. Enbridge claims it will only transport dilbit or heavy crude if their customers at the refineries along the pipeline request it and that they have no intentions of exporting to the United States or Europe. However, once the project and permits are approved there is no regulation that will prevent Tar Sands dilbit from being exported via Line 9, if the company revises their plans.

The National Energy Board (NEB) is currently reviewing the Phase Two proposal and is accepting both written submissions and applications for intervenor status in the process. The NEB is also offering financial support for groups or individuals that wish to participate in the hearing process. Full information on criteria and how to apply are available on the NEB website: neb-one.gc.ca.

Since the pipeline already exists, there is no requirement for an environmental assessment from the Provincial or Federal Government. The only environmental assessment that occured was paid for by Enbridge, and evaluated construction plans for pump stations along the way.

Canadians for Mining Awareness (CMA) is hosting an educational workshop/strategizing session on Line 9 on Tuesday, February 26 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Bagnani Hall, Traill College. Please join us to learn more about this project and the connections to Tar Sands issues, discuss local impacts, and create discussion.