Pipeline to tar sands oil draws 41,000 concerns:  Latest front in tar sands battle moves to Ontario, Quebec as spill fears mount
Toronto, ON and Washington, DC – The National Energy Board (NEB) received 41,000 citizen comments opposed to the Enbridge’s plans to pump tar sands oil through pipelines in Ontario and Quebec.
The comments were sent as part of a public comment period about proposed changes to pipelines built for normal oil.  The changes may allow heavier, hotter and more abrasive raw tar sands oil to flow, which many fear will make spills easier.  Enbridge also wants to increase pressure to make tar sands oil flow faster through the pipe, which is another worry.
“Thousands of Canadians and Americans are worried about the oil industry’s plans and spoke up,” said Gillian McEachern, deputy campaign director for Environmental Defence. “They rightly fear what spills will do to the lakes, rivers and water table along the pipeline’s route.”
She noted these fears are not without cause.  One pipeline owned by the same company—Enbridge—ruptured in Michigan in 2010, spilling three million litres of oil.  A local river was severely polluted, and the state government found significant health impacts.
“Enbridge wants to hook more people on tar sands oil, no matter how dirty it is to produce,” said McEachern.  “People in Ontario, Quebec and New England want their say, too, because our energy and water future shouldn’t be left to powerful oil interests alone.”
That’s why a coalition of 11 groups submitted the comments about the environmental and public health dangers the new tar sands project presents.  Enbridge is proposing to change its aging, 62-year-old pipeline so oil can flow from Sarnia to a terminal close to Hamilton.  Normal oil currently flows west, but Enbridge wants it to flow east, a move likely bring more tar sands oil to Ontario.
“Eastern Canada and New England are currently tar sands free,” says John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada Executive Director. “The U.S. and Canadian governments have some serious science to do before they expose millions of people and their drinking water to this toxic threat.”
“The public deserves to know the real plan about tar sands coming to their backyard,” said Danielle Droitsch, from the Natural Resource Defence Council in the U.S. “We know tar sands oil destroys the Boreal forest and pumps large amounts of climate-changing carbon pollution.  We’ve also seen how pipeline spills around the Great Lakes harm water and human health, which is why so many are concerned.”
The groups fear this is the first step by Enbridge to revive the shelved Trailbreaker pipeline, which would move tar sands oil from Alberta through Ontario and Quebec and across New England to Maine. There, it would be loaded onto tankers for export to refineries on the East Coast or overseas.
More information on this proposal is available here:  https://environmentaldefence.ca/reports/going-in-reverse-tar-sands-oil-threat-central-canada-and-new-england
Groups working on both sides of the border to alert citizens of the dangers of tar sands pipelines are: 350.org, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defence Canada, Environment Maine, ENE (Environment Northeast), Équiterre, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club Canada.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell); skohls@environmentaldefence.ca