MONTREAL — The City of Montreal and the Montreal Metropolitan Community are outraged that Enbridge is not respecting conditions set out in March by the National Energy Board to build the 9B pipeline, and local politicians are urging the Board to force Enbridge to comply.
Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said Friday that the 30 conditions spelled out by the energy board were a bare minimum.
“You can’t just pick and choose 25 of the 30 and say you comply,” the mayor said at a press conference.
Coderre admitted municipal politicians do not have the legislative tools to block the project if the Energy Board allows it to proceed without compliance.
But the mayor said his only recourse was political and public pressure.
“We can use the power of our words and the power of the Montreal Metropolitan Community oversight committee to put the pressure on,” Coderre said.
He called the 9B pipeline file a test for the National Energy Board.
Asked if he had confidence in the Board to do the right thing, Coderre replied:
“It remains to be seen. Let’s see what kind of answer they give us.”
Using his typical colourful vocabulary, the mayor went on to say:
“If the board responsible for national energy sets out a series of conditions and they are not respected and then they do nothing, what do we do with the puck?”
Coderre said the Montreal Metropolitan Community is particularly concerned with answers provided by Enbridge on the question of protecting Montreal’s waterways, and the emergency measures plan in “at risk” zones in the event of a pipeline break.
“If they chose to put up some way of doing things, some process, and you issue a permit,” he said. “If those conditions are not completed then come back to me and we’ll talk.”
The mayor sent his concerns directly to the National Energy Board, with a copy to Federal Natural Resources Minister, Greg Rickford.
Coderre insisted that it’s important to note that the city is not opposed to the project in principle.
“We agree with the economic development it could bring,” Coderre said.
The National Energy Board gave it’s approval to the 9B pipeline in March.
The project reverses the flow of oil through lines in Ontario and Quebec, so that crude from the Alberta oil sands can be sent directly to refineries in those two provinces.
View a detailed map of Line 9′s route here.
In its decision, the National Energy Board stipulated that Enbridge must verify the integrity of the line, built in 1975, and continue to survey it as long as it is pumping oil.
It may come as no surprise that Greenpeace is applauding the move by the mayor and the Montreal Metropolitian Community.
“We’re lucky the city is being vigilant, because the province has been asleep at the switch on this project,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Patrick Bonin.
“They laid out 18 conditions for the use of this pipeline, but have not forced Enbridge to respect any of them.”
Bonin noted that Enbridge is responsible for an average of 65 oil spills per year.