Why the Province should require a provincial Environmental Assessment on Line 9

Now that the national Energy Board has all but ignored the suggested conditions that Ontario laid done in its submission on Line 9, the province should move forward on requiring a provincial EA.

It has been debated in some circles whether the province has the jurisdiction but Eco-Justice gave Environmental Defence a legal opinion last spring which said that as long as they kept to provincial matters, it would be OK.

In a situation like this where jurisdiction is not clear, it is sometimes desirable to take the bull by the horns and just do it. If Enbridge doesn't like it (they won't), they can challenge the government in court and then a judge will add clarity to the current murky situation.

Here are my (non-legal) arguments why a provincial (Ontario) EA should be permitted to go forward:

  1. one has never been done on Line 9. The NEB was supposed to have done one as part of the original approval way back in 1975 but based on my investigations in preparation for the current hearings, it never was. For a summary of this investigation - refer to our final oral submission paragraphs 4067-4104
  2. The environmental studies that were done back in 1975 particularly shortchanged Ontario. There are a number of comments from the Board within the ruling like "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". In contrast, the Board praised the environmental work done for the Quebec portion.
  3. the EA connected with Enbridge's current application extended only to those tiny patches of land around the 6 pumping stations on the line. This has every appearance of a deliberate attempt to circumvent obvious concerns about the pipeline.
  4. the NEB's jurisdiction over pipelines is strictly for those that cross provincial boundaries. Whilt it has to be acknowledged that Line 9 crosses the Quebec border and a small part (about 5%) of Line 9 is in Quebec, it also should be recognized that apart from that Line 9 would be under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The fact that the NEB essentially ignored Ontario's submission just grinds salt into the wound.
  5. The current ruling by the NEB on Enbridge's application fails to follow their NEB mandate to protect the public interest which was eloquently expressed by dozens of intervenors. There was ample evidence presented of the risk posed by Line 9.