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Tar sands lobby tries to stop democracy

Stop Line 9
Jesse McLaren

April 28, 2013

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There is massive opposition to tar sands pipelines that head west. Thousands have written to and participated in public hearings, over 100 First Nations, several cities and the BC NDP have all made their determination to stop the pipelines clear. In response the tar sands lobby is desperate to make sure that when it comes to the east-bound Line 9 project, there will be no spills, spills of democracy that is.
Last year thousands of people demonstrated their opposition to the public review of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was furious: “These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”
The National Energy Board is making efforts to prevent similar democratic debate from spilling into the public hearings on Line 9. Those wanting to comment on the reversal project have to fill out a 10-page application project about their “detailed and specific interest” to even be considered worthy of submitting a letter. The application form includes the following: “Before you continue with this form, refer to the Board’s Guidance Document on Section 55.2 and Participation in a Facilities Hearing attached to the Hearing Order OH-002-2013 as Appendix VI, and again as Appendix III of Procedural Update No. 1 for OH-002-2013.”
Climate Action Network discovered last year in a government strategy document obtained  through Access to Information, the government considers the National Energy Board an “ally.” Greenpeace energy campaigner Keith Stewart explained, “Canadians should be concerned when a supposedly arms-length agency that is supposed to regulate the oil industry, including conducting hearings on the Enbridge’s proposed new tar sands pipeline across British Columbia, is listed as an ‘ally’ in a political strategy to lower environmental standards in other nations.”
Meanwhile Enbridge is trying to counter the threat of municipalities protecting their water, by buying them off. This interactive map by the Montreal Gazette shows “donations” all along the pipeline route.
But there have already been truth spills. As Toronto city counselor Anthony Perruzza said, “The City of Toronto sits at one of the biggest freshwater supplies in the world. These pipelines cross the city, traverse it completely. Any leakage, any rupture, any break, any undetected leaks over time will have disastrous consequences for us and for our water.”
To stop Line 9 we need a flood of democracy—through petitions, forums and protests—following the example of opposition on the west coast that has united indigenous communities, environmentalists and labour groups against pipelines.


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