Toronto, ON – Enbridge, the tar sands pipeline giant, was recently fined for 24 separate violations in Michigan, where a pipeline spilled tar sands oil into a river.  But there will be no review by the federal environmental assessment agency of its risky plan to reverse the flow of Ontario’s Line 9 pipeline so it can carry tar sands oil—making it the first winner of weak new rules for environmental assessments contained in the federal budget.
“The ink hasn’t even dried on the new law and already Big Oil is benefiting while citizens are saddled with all the risk,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “Given the string of recent oil spills, we need more precaution, not less.”
Prior to the passing of the federal budget, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) had been assessing the impacts of Enbridge’s proposal to reverse its Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia and North Westover, along with the National Energy Board. Today, CEAA announced an environmental assessment is no longer required because the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was repealed on July 6, 2012. The National Energy Board (NEB) is still required to consider the environmental impacts of the project.
Tar sands oil is more dangerous to transport and, when it spills, causes more harm to the environment than normal oil. The federal government is also closing the office that deals with oil spill emergencies in Toronto, which means it could take longer for trained government staff to respond to a spill.
Enbridge has stated that it plans to ask for permission to reverse the entire pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal this fall. Enbridge’s proposal puts Ontarians at risk of oil spills into the Rouge, Grand, Trent and Credit Rivers, which run into the Great Lakes. A full report on the causes of the 2010 oil spill in Marshall, Michigan is to be released on Tuesday, July 10.