There is a new tar sands pipeline in town and it goes right through Durham

Click here for the pipeline route through Durham - pdf file

Unlike the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in British Colombia and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline in the US, the Line 9 pipeline already exists. For over thirty years Line 9 has pumped conventional oil from Montreal through southern Quebec and southern Ontario to oil refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge (operator of Line 9 and the company behind the Northern Gateway project) wants to reverse the flow of Line 9 (i.e.. flow from Sarnia to Montreal) so tar sands crude can be sent to Montreal. From Montreal, it looks like the plans are to pipe tar sands crude through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to be exported by tanker from Portland, Maine. Plans for the Montreal-Portland pipeline are conditional on the Line 9 reversal being approved. And that's why Americans are not a big fan of Line 9 either.

Ontario (as well as Quebec) both have a chance and a choice in regards to Line 9. Ontarians could choose to throw their arms up in the air and say "what you gonna do?" The pipeline already exists so there is no way to stop its construction.  The vast majority of tar sands crude in Line 9 will be exported so Ontarians can take some comfort in the fact that they will not be filling up their cars with "dirty oil" from the tar sands.

There are risks for both Ontario and Quebec in this project. The pipeline could burst. Line 9 was an old pipeline that is designed to carry conventional oil not tar sands crude. Due to the sludge-like tar sands crude inability to flow through pipelines the same way conventional oil can, chemicals (diluents) are added to make it move. These diluents tend to be on the corrosive side. In 2010, one of Enbridge's pipeline carrying tar sands crude burst in Michigan contaminating the Kalamazoo River and surrounding waterways. The clean up is still going on and it may go down in history as the longest and most costly pipeline cleanup in American history. I know I have been out of Canada for awhile, but the last time I checked there are A LOT of waterways in southern Ontario and southern Quebec.

Let's put the oil spill/pipeline burst argument aside for a moment. I think there is a more fundamental question at the heart of this choice Ontario faces; do we really want to become a part of the tar sands industry? By allowing tar sands crude to be shipped through Line 9, Ontario will be helping the tar sands industry expand. An increase in tar sands development means more destruction of the land, more toxins in the waterways, more carbon dioxide expelled in the atmosphere and more disrespect for First Nations culture and way of life in northern Alberta. Do we really want to be an accomplice to this? 

With Line 9 Ontario has a chance to join the ranks of those amazing British Colombians who are successfully stopping both the Northern Gateway and TransMountain tar sands pipeline projects. This is our chance to show the world we can do the impossible like the Americans did when they stopped the Keystone XL pipeline the first time. This is our chance to help Alberta and those Albertans who want to see Alberta transition from a "petro-province" to something better, something more sustainable, something as friendly and hospitable as the Albertans themselves. This is our chance to do our bit for the international movement trying to stop the tar sands.

Come on Ontario! Come on Quebec! I know you can do it!

Derek Leahy, Uxbridge


How do you stop Line 9 though? 

1) SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT LINE 9. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors and community about what Line 9 could mean for Ontario. Raising awareness is probably the most important thing to do done right now.  And if you do it in a fun, positive, creative way I guarantee people will at least listen. Here is some easy to read info and a great little video on Line 9 to help you out. The Line 9 facebook group is also a good source for news and updates on the pipeline.

2) SIGN THE PETITION - We need to determine and show people what the impacts of Line 9 will be and could be on land, water and residents of Ontario. The provincial government can do an environmental assessment to find these things out. Click here to sign the petition calling on the Ontario government to do an environmental assessment and flush out the truth about the Line 9 reversal. 

3) FIND OUT  IF LINE 9 GOES THROUGH YOUR COMMUNITY. Click here for a full list of communities who are either sitting on top of Line 9 or would be negatively effected if Line 9 bursts. Finding out if Line 9 goes through your community is tricky but not impossible. I personally plan on contacting the Works Department of my municipality for its location and then I plan to "walk the line"  just like we did in Toronto last Saturday so I can see where Line 9 is buried and more importantly, so I can see with my own eyes what is at stake for my community (forests, creeks, farm land, etc.). Might even make a nice little winter community event out of it too! 

4) DON'T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT TO OTHERS. Communities across Ontario, Quebec and New England are slowly coming together and discussing what they are going to do about Line 9. Don't be afraid to say hi to them, and ask for advice or how you can help. We are all in this together. Off the top of my head I know that there are groups in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston, Hamilton-Burlington, Guelph and Montreal all working on the Line 9 problem. Google them! You would be surprised how fruitful following the #NoLine9 hastag on twitter can be for finding people and groups doing what they can to stop Line 9