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UPDATE: Council of Canadians will have “commentator status” at NEB Line 9 hearings

The Globe and Mail reports, “The (National Energy Board) is carrying out the federal review (of the reversal of the Line 9 pipeline), and has asked a selected group of people – who qualified through a (10-page) application process – to provide written comments and questions.” The National Energy Board rejected “intervenor status” for the Council of Canadians (national), Council of Canadians (Guelph chapter), Sierra Club Canada, East End Against Line 9, and Environmental Justice Toronto. But “commentator status” was given to Council of Canadians energy campaigner Maryam Adrangi and our Guelph, Hamilton and Toronto chapters. And the York University chapter was granted intervenor status given they are directly affected by their proximity to the route of the pipeline.

In its explanation of its ruling, the NEB states, “The Board notes that many applicants submitted that they were directly affected by the proposed Project due to concerns related to the risk of a pipeline spill or rupture and the resulting environmental effects, specifically, contamination of water sources. …(But) persons who live north (upstream) of the currently operating Line 9 pipeline are exposed to a different likelihood and severity of harm in the event of a pipeline spill or rupture than those who live south (downstream) of the Line 9 pipeline. For example, since the route crosses the watershed approximately 20 km south (downstream) from the City of Guelph, and the groundwater gradient in the region is from the NW to SE, there is a lower likelihood that the pipeline will have a direct effect on a City of Guelph resident than on someone who lives downstream of the pipeline.

The Board also regulates the currently operating Line 9 and understands where the Line 9 pipeline is located in and near the City of Toronto and relative to Lake Ontario where the City of Toronto obtains its drinking water.” The Globe and Mail has previously reported, “Peter Julian, the natural resources critic for the federal New Democrats, said the process is a ‘sad commentary’ on the current state of public consultation. ‘I don’t know how citizens can actually be involved in the process at all, even the people in communities that are impacted’, said Mr. Julian, ‘when it takes several days to pull everything together and mail it out, and serve Enbridge and do all of the things that the NEB is requiring because of the changes that the Harper government has brought in.'”

In terms of timelines, the National Energy Board oral hearings were originally scheduled to take place August 26-30, but now oral arguments will be heard sometime after October 1. Notably, the article also reports, “The Quebec government has announced plans to hold its own hearings on Enbridge Inc.’s proposed pipeline project to bring western oil to Montreal, a move that could raise roadblocks to Alberta’s efforts to access new markets for its growing oil production. Parti Québécois Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet said Thursday that review would be done simultaneously with the National Energy Board and will allow local citizens and municipalities to make recommendations on how to make the pipeline safe or whether that is even possible. …(Blanchet) said the government needs to have a say on the project and will announce the exact format of the hearings in the coming weeks.”

For more, please read: NEWS: Council of Canadians applies for NEB “intervenor status” on Line 9 pipeline NEWS: Mulcair rejects reversal of Line 9 pipeline VIEW: Laxer opposes west-to-east pipeline proposals