Weak environmental 'assessment' on original pipeline application - 1975

When the current Enbridge Line 9 pipeline was built in the mid-seventies, it was with the backdrop of the mid-east oil crisis and the federal government wanted the pipeline built in order to ensure access by eastern Canada to western crude oil. Interprovincial Pipelines (the forerunner to Enbridge) wasn't convinced there was enough oil to make the pipeline profitable and so the federal government even agreed to cover any operating losses in order to make it happen.

The National Energy Board approved the project after 6 days of hearings in May 1974, 2 days of hearings in October and a further day in April 1975. Many aspects of the project were considered of which the environment was one. 22 out of the 54 pages in the decision are devoted to the environment but it has to be noted that this includes agricultural disruptions as well. Most of those 22 pages are devoted to the quite small section of the line between the Quebec border and the refineries in Montreal. In fact environmental considerations for the Ontario section were quite weak. Here is a telling paragraph from the decision:

The  envlronmental  report  of  the  Applicant's consultant  for  the  Ontario  segment  of  the  pipeline contained  generalized  inforrnation  on the  existing environmental  setting along  the  proposed  route  from Sarnia  to  the  Ontarlo-Quebec  provincial  boundary.  It included  general  descriptions  of  sltes  having  commercial, recreational, scientific, historic,  archaeological, aesthetic  and conservation  values.  The report  described characteristics  of  climate,  geology,  hydrology, terrestrial  and  aquatic  biology,  agriculture,  and urban areas. It also contained  general statements  on "environmental considerations"  with  respect  to  various components  of  the  environment  together  with  certain suggestions  of  policy  and  procedures  for protection of  the environment.

The emphasis is mine but it needs to be noted that such terminology was not found in connection with the "applicant's consuItant for the Quebec segment"

IPL set out that the environmental work would be carried out in 4 phases:

Phase I: - broad  assessment  of  envlronmental feasibility  of  the  pipeline.  This assessment was made  prior  to  preparation of  the application and was submitted to the  Board as part  of  the  applieation.

Phase II: - site  specific  assessment  of  environmental implications  as required in  relation  to the  design of  the  pipeline.  This phase of  the  environmental  work will be carried out during  and after  selectlon  of  final alignment.

Phase III: -  environmental  considerations  during  the construction phase  of  the pipeline.  Thls phase  wlll  include  environmental monitoring and consultation  during construction  on  a day-to-day  basis.

Phase IV: - monitorlng of  the  environment  after constructlon.  This phase  will  consi.st of making  an assessment  of  the  effects of  construction  and  of  identifying mitigative measures  which  may be  required during the operational phase of the pipeline.

Only phase 1 was completed at the time of the application and the Board was actually quite critical:

...the  scope  of  the  phased  studies as outlined  in  the  evidence  is  inappropriate  and inadequate  in  relation  to  the  Board's regulatory procedure.  The Board believes  that  more  definitive work could have and should  have  been  included  in  phase one  of  the  environmental  program, which  is  the  phase available  to  the  Board and interested  parties at  the time  of  hearing  the  Application.

Nevertheless the application was approved subject to further monitoring - the results of which is presumably on file "in off-site storage" at the NEB.