line 9

Pipeline Regulator Orders High-Pressure Safety Test of Enbridge’s Line 9B

The National Energy Board (NEB) ordered high-pressure testing of a segment of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline before the line, a west-to-east oil pipeline, can begin operating according to a press release issued Thursday.

Before Line 9B becomes operational, hydrostatic testing results of three segments of the pipeline must be provided to and approved by the NEB,” the National Energy Board — Canada’s federal pipeline regulator — said.

Enbridge requested permission to reverse the flow of a 639-kilometre portion of the Line 9B pipeline between North Westover, Ontario and Montreal. Line 9B is part of the larger Line 9, which Enbridge hopes will carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to Eastern Canada.

Community groups, particularly in Quebec, have long requested the high-pressure, hydrostatic test. A hydrotest or hydrostatic test is a commonly used method of determining if a pipeline can operate safely at its expected operating pressure. Recently a number of groups demanded the NEB explain why it would not order a hydrotest of Line 9.

Groups Want Pipeline Regulator to Explain Why it Won't Order Safety Test of Enbridge's Line 9

Environmental and citizen groups in Quebec are demanding the National Energy Board (NEB) explain why it refuses to order a hydrostatic safety test of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline, a west-to-east oil pipeline that could come online as early as next month.

A hydrostatic test or hydrotest is a commonly used method to determine whether a pipeline can operate safely at its maximum operating pressure. The test involves pumping water at through the pipeline at levels higher than average operating pressures. Enbridge is reversing the flow of the 39-year old Line 9 pipeline, which previously carried imported oil inland from Canada's east coast, and will increase its capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

[The NEB] claims to be transparent and to listen to what the public is saying, yet despite having all the required information in their possession for over six months, it refuses to render a written and reasoned decision on whether or not it will impose hydrostatic tests on the length of Line 9B,” Lorraine Caron, spokesperson for the citizen group Citoyens au Courant, said.

When the NEB, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, approved the Enbridge pipeline project in March 2014, the board stated it could order a hydrostatic test of Line 9 if it felt the integrity of the 39-year old pipeline was in question. So far the board has chosen not to exercise this option and has said very little as to why.

Refusing to make a decision public means the NEB wants to keep the public in a state of ignorance. This only contributes to diminishing public confidence in the NEB,” Steven Guilbeault, executive director of Equiterre, said.

Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court

A group of citizens fighting to speak about climate change and the oilsands at National Energy Board (NEB) reviews of pipeline projects, like the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, are taking their battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The group, comprised of landowners, academics, owners of business and many others, filed a constitutional challenge against the NEB’s restrictive policies that limit public participation and prevent discussion of climate and upstream oil and gas activities.

The purpose of taking the challenge to the Supreme Court “is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly,” David Martin, legal counsel, explained in a statement.

The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong,” Martin said.

“Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail.”

Canada's Pipeline Review Process Broken But Still Important, Critics Say

The National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, has come under tremendous public criticism over the last three years for limiting public participation in its review of major oil pipeline proposals. In recent years the board has denied hundreds of Canadians an opportunity to voice their concerns on projects like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 9.

TransCanada’s Energy East, Canada’s largest proposed oil pipeline, is the newest project to land on the NEB’s desk. Despite major barriers to participation in the public hearing process, Canadians are preparing to apply in droves, even if just for the opportunity to be officially rejected from the process.

We can’t sit back and we can’t afford the luxury of despair,” Donna Sinclair of North Bay, Ontario said. “We need to resist efforts to shut us out of the process.”

Sinclair, who was denied the opportunity to submit a letter of comment regarding the Line 9 pipeline project in 2013, plans on applying to participate in the NEB review process for Energy East.

Energy East, Line 9 Pipelines Will Have “Insignificant” Economic Impact on Quebec, Says Report

Energy East export pipeline, Line 9 pipeline, desmog canada

Quebec will gain “minimal economic benefits” from west-to-east oil pipeline projects such as TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9 according to a new report released this month. Both projects would transport western Canadian oil and oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen to refineries and ports in Quebec, but would only make a combined 0.50 per cent contribution to economic activity and 0.30 per cent to jobs in the province.

Quebec will bear almost all of the risks and costs associated with spills and other environmental impacts, without any offsetting economic gains,” Brigid Rowan, senior economist with the consulting firm The Goodman Group Ltd., and co-author of the report says.

Oilsands producers, pipeline companies, and the owners of the two refineries in Quebec have the most to gain from Line 9 and Energy East concludes the report by The Goodman Group Ltd. in collaboration with Greenpeace and Equiterre. The fifty-five-page report also refutes claims by pipeline proponents that supplying Quebec with cheaper western Canadian bitumen will make things cheaper at the gas pump for Quebecers.

Refineries will not provide discounts for Quebec markets when they can also sell their refined products to profitable markets outside Quebec,” the report states.

Consumers who think that oil companies will give them a break at the gas pump have another thing coming,” Pierre-Olivier Pineau, an energy specialist at HEC Montreal Business School warns.

Ontario Election: Power Bills, Not Pipelines, Are the Hot Issue

Vote ontario

With two weeks to go until Ontarians vote in a new government, it appears proposed oilsands pipeline projects for the province will not be a prominent election issue.

Ontario’s 2014 election will not be B.C.’s 2013 election.

We would like to see all elected leaders in Ontario — not just MPPs — saying no to tar sands pipelines until sanity can be restored to federal environmental policy and the environmental regulations recently rolled back by the Harper government are put back in place,” says Graham Saul, executive director of Ecology Ottawa.

Last year’s provincial election in B.C. left many (especially those living outside of B.C.) with the impression that the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain oilsands pipelines were the only election issues. Ontario also faces two proposed oilsands pipelines that would cut through the province — TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9 — but no political party has addressed the risks these pipelines pose for the province on the election trail.

Federal Regulator Acting "Impermissibly in Favour" of TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline, Says Lawyer

The National Energy Board (NEB), the federal regulator responsible for inter-provincial pipelines, appears to have jumped the gun on TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline proposal by releasing a 'list of issues' to be considered for the project's approval, before the company submitted an official application for the project. If approved, Energy East will transport 1.1 million barrels of oil and oilsands bitumen 4,600 kilometres across the country from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick each day.

It is highly irregular and, as far as I know, unprecedented,” Jason MacLean, an assistant professor of law, and specialist in environmental law, at Lakehead University, said. “Releasing the list of issues in advance is acting impermissibly in favour of the proponent of the pipeline project.”

MacLean is also acting counsel for a legal challenge announced Thursday against the NEB as a result of the 'list of issues' release. In the past the NEB has waited for pipeline companies to apply for projects before deciding what issues are relevant to their approval.

The NEB is acting in bad faith and demonstrating how biased it is in favour of the oil industry by tailoring the list of issues to be considered to the company’s advantage,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians, said. The Council of Canadians – one of Canada’s largest civil society organizations – is spearheading the legal challenge.

TransCanada’s Proposed Energy East Pipeline Is Clearly An Export Pipeline Says Report

Energy East export pipeline

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline is more likely to be an export pipeline than supplier of western Canadian oil to eastern Canadian refineries. A new report released this week revealed as much as 90 per cent of Energy East’s oil and bitumen from the Alberta oilsands will be shipped out of Canada.

Publicly available information from TransCanada, as well as sources from industry, government reports and legal documents show that most of the pipeline’s oil would be exported unrefined, with little benefit to Canadians,” reads the report, released by Environmental Defence, the Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, and Equiterre.

The report finds eastern Canadian refineries – two in Quebec and one in New Brunswick – will be nearly fully supplied with oil from Atlantic Canada, rail and tanker shipments from the United States and the recently approved Line 9 pipeline by the time Energy East begins pumping in 2018. Eastern Canada can refine 672,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). TransCanada wants to ship 1.1 million barrels via Energy East every day.

250,000 bpd of eastern Canada’s capacity will be served by Line 9. Take away another 100,000 bpd of Canadian offshore crude from Newfoundland, and 200,000 bpd of US crude and you're left with a pretty small gap to fill, of 122,000 bpd,” says Shelley Kath, energy consultant and lead researcher of the report.

That means the rest, some 978,000 bpd is likely export bound,” Kath told DeSmog Canada.

Public Requests for Basic Line 9 Safety Test Denied in NEB Pipeline Approval

Enbridge Line 9

Last week’s approval of the Line 9 pipeline project by the National Energy Board (NEB) hinges on thirty conditions being met by the pipeline’s operator, Enbridge. The conditions are meant to enhance the safety of the project that involves shipping 300,000 barrels of crude oil and oilsands bitumen everyday from Sarnia to Montreal. Critics of the project say the requirements are not “meaningful conditions” and do not protect communities living along the 38-year old pipeline.

“By giving the green light without actually imposing conditions, the NEB is complacent towards the oilsands industry and demonstrates its inability to protect [our] health, public safety and our environment,” Sidney Ribaux, executive director of Équiterre, says of Line 9’s approval in a statement from Montreal.

The NEB may pretend to have put adequate safeguards in place but it has only safeguarded the profits of pipeline companies and externalized the risks associated with pipelines onto landowners as the Board always does,” says Dave Core, president of the Canadian Association of Energy Pipeline Landowners Associations (CAEPLA).

The conditions largely require Enbridge to provide the NEB – Canada’s independent energy regulator – with the most recent information about the Line 9 project. This includes information regarding the current state of the pipeline, revised emergency response plans and the pipeline company’s updated pipeline leak detection system manual.

Canada Approves Enbridge Line 9 Reversal: Tar Sands Crude to Flow to Montreal

Alberta’s tar sands crude has a new route east. 

Canada’s National Energy Board announced on Thursday the approval of Enbridge’s request to reverse and expand a portion of the company’s Line 9 pipeline to allow for crude to flow east to Montreal, Quebec. This follows a July 2012 decision by the NEB to allow reversal of the western Line 9 segment from West Northover to Sarnia, Ontario. As a result, in the words of the NEB, “Enbridge will be permitted to operate all of Line 9 in an eastward direction in order to transport crude oil from western Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to refineries in Ontario and Quebec.”

Canadian activists urged the NEB to fully consider the high risk and small reward of reversing the pipeline, pointing to the “DilBit Disaster” — when another reversed-flow Enbridge pipeline spilled over 800,000 gallons of diluted bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River — as a warning for what could occur on the Line 9 route.

As DeSmog Canada has reported, Enbridge’s Line 9 shares the same design deficiencies as the company’s Line 6B, which burst in Michigan. Canadian environmental groups are crying foul over the agency’s non-transparent and restrictive public comment process.

It’s pretty obvious the entire regulatory system is broken,” Adam Scott, spokesperson for Environmental Defence, told the Vancouver Observer. “They restricted the public’s ability to even participate.” Language in a 2012 budget bill allowed the NEB’s decision to be made without a comprehensive environmental assessment, and the Canadian public was forced to complete a lengthy 10-page application (and given a short two week warning to do so) to even earn the right to submit a public comment.

There were roughly 150 folks who were actually even allowed to comment or write a letter, and this was also the first major energy project not to have to go through an environmental assessment, so it’s clear the whole system has been stacked against the public’s interest in favour of oil companies,” said Scott.

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