NEB bars citizens from hearing

OIL PIPELINE: Protesters disrupt proceedings in London, Ontario

May 23, 2012  by Jonathan Sher

“We’re fed up with this,” said one native woman. She said her name is Yagotala and that she’s part of the Mohawk Nation. “The government isn’t listening.”

Members of Six Nations and Occupy London voiced their concerns about a request by Enbridge to reverse the flow of oil in a London area pipeline so it travels west to east, from Sarnia to Westover, near Hamilton.

Spooked by native and Occupy protests, the National Energy Board has barred citizens from a hearing that could remove obstacles to bringing oil to Southwestern Ontario from Alberta’s oil sands.

“It is unfortunate today that we have to take this step,” board chair Roland George said Wednesday. “(Protesters) have not shown respect and caused serious concerns about the safety of those in attendance.”

Only media and groups that applied earlier to intervene in the issue will be allowed in the hearing room Thursday at Hilton London — others can only tune in to a live webcast.

Earlier Wednesday, moments before pipeline giant Enbridge was to speak to the board, protesters brought the hearing to a halt, rising to their feet, a leader bellowing out at the injustices and others repeating phrases as if at a revival.

Board members fled the room as members of the Haudenosaunee First Nation decried what they called an intrusion on their lands and treaty rights.


“Mic check!
The people here
believe the NEB hearings
are illegitimate,
and undemocratic.
Although we respect the efforts
of organizations at this hearing
that are raising concerns
about environmental threats
and Indigenous treaty violations.
We are here to challenge Enbridge,
the National Energy Board,
and the Conservative government.
The federal government
can completely overrule
the decision made here.
You are also failing to consider
the impacts of tar sands expansion
and all the treaties being breached
by this proposed pipeline reversal.
This project cannot go forward
without the free,
and informed consent
of the Haudenosaunee,
who would be directly
impacted by a pipeline rupture.
So, the official hearing is now over
until your request
has been approved by HDI
The Haudenosaunee Development Institute
and we would now like to commence
The People’s Hearing
with statements from the Haudenosaunee themselves.”

“We’re fed up with this,” said one native woman. She said her name is Yagotala and that she’s part of the Mohawk Nation. “The government isn’t listening.”

A board official, with police backing him, ordered the room cleared and nearly all left without incident — one woman was arrested.

The hearing resumed later with police monitoring who could enter the room.

First to speak was Enbridge, which wants to reverse the flow of oil in a pipeline in London’s backyard so it moves from west to east, from Sarnia to Westover near Hamilton.

Less reliable oil from overseas can be replaced by Alberta crude, said Enbridge lawyer Douglas Crowther. “This will benefit shippers, producers and the broader Canadian public interest,” he told the energy board.

He disputes claims by environmentalists, who point to a rupture of an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan two years ago and say Londoners should be alarmed because the pipeline crosses under the Thames River just north of the city.

The Aamjiwnaang First Nation argued Enbridge had done far too little to establish the changes it plans are safe for the environment or respectful of treaty rights.

There’s been no oil in the pipeline this year and a trickle last year, so Enbridge must show if increased flow will denigrate the air, water and soil, Aamjiwnaang lawyer Scott Smith told the board.

Then the company must share findings with, and seek input from, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, he said.

Instead, Enbridge has only studied some of the changes and addition to its infrastructure, he said.

Environmentalists fear Enbridge’s push to reverse the flow of oil near London is the first step toward moving oil to the U.S. east coast, a move that could speed oilsands production and degrade the global environment.

Some environmental groups will make their case Thursday.

Margaret Vance, president of the Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association, has immediate concerns: the pipeline is within two kilometres of her farm north of Woodstock. “I don’t want to walk out on our backyard and see a field of oil.”

Community Activists Protest Tar Sands Pipeline Reversal

The Protesters chanted “No Tar Sands Oil. Protect Vermont’s soil”

Posted on May 8, 2012

May 5, 2012

Burlington, VT- Saturday local students and community members carried a 30 foot long pipeline prop with the message “No Tar Sands In VT!” written down the side through downtown Burlington to protest the proposed reversal of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL). The reversal would result in heavy tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada being pumped through the sixty year old pipeline that crosses through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Tar sands crude is much more corrosive than conventional oil and led to Enbridge spilling over 840,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 when their pipeline ruptured.

The protesters chanted “No Tar Sands oil. Protect Vermont’s soil!” among other chants making their way down Church St. At City Hall they stopped for a couple short speeches informing onlookers about the issue and drawing cheers from the crowd.

“This is Vermont. I was born and raised here. I know the pride we feel of our state. So what makes me really upset is that someone has decided to run tar sands through our lives, our fields, woods, streams.” said Marion Major, a sophomore at UVM, to the crowd in front of City Hall.

After city hall the march headed through city hall park and back down Church St. Activists engaged pedestrians as they passed to tell them that the tar sands is coming to Vermont. One man from Montreal already knew about it and was very supportive. Montreal has had a lot of activism surrounding the issue already.

The plan to reverse PMPL, part of a larger pipeline infrastructure proposal known as the Trailbreaker Project, had been shelved in 2008 when the recession hit, but has been given new life with the other avenues of exporting tar sands oil being blocked. Other communities have united against the Keystone XL pipeline that would travel across the Midwestern United States and it is now time to demonstrate opposition to tar sands being shipped through our own community.

Enbridge has already begun seeking permits to reverse their Line 9 pipeline as well as the PMPL section that lies on the Canadian side of the border. The next logical step is for them to do the same on the Vermont side. The protesters today were demonstrating to promote an early resistance, hoping to raise awareness among Vermonters of a little-known proposal that could severely risk the lives and well being of many citizens.