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Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
We are writing on behalf of community organizations in southern Ontario and Quebec, impacted Indigenous communities, and national organizations that would like to express adamant opposition to the recent 'Leave to Open' status granted to the Enbridge Line 9B reversal project by the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada. That the Line 9 project (Line 9A & 9B) was ultimately approved by the NEB is an unacceptable outcome of an NEB review process that was deeply flawed and undemocratic.
Line 9 poses significant risks to the health and wellbeing of millions of Canadians. Given your renewed commitments to protecting the environment including the mitigation of runaway climate change as well as your commitments to respecting Indigenous rights, we are calling upon the federal government to restructure the NEB review process. We urge the federal government to halt the Line 9 project until it can be subjected to a subsequent review under more robust, transparent, and democratic conditions.
In your recent mandate letter to Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, you underscore not only a number of important commitments with respect to the environment, but also the crucial role civil society plays in holding the federal government to account. We ask that you show leadership and vision by upholding promises made during your campaign and in your environmental mandate.
You state explicitly that we must "treat our freshwater as a precious resource that deserves protection and careful stewardship." The NEB decision to approve Line 9 directly undermines this objective. Line 9 is an aging pipeline that cuts across every major river and tributary flowing into Lake Ontario, which millions of Ontarians depend on for their drinking water. In Quebec, Line 9 also crosses major bodies of water, such as the Ottawa River, which is the drinking water source of more than 2.5 million people.
The new proposed contents of Line 9 include diluted bitumen from the tar sands, a much heavier and more toxic substance than the conventional oil it was built to carry, as well as potentially explosive fracked Bakken Shale oil. A pipeline safety expert, with 40 years of experience in the energy sector, has testified that there is a 90 per cent likelihood of a significant Line 9 spill within the first five years of operation. Not only are the local consequences along the pipeline route of great concern, but so are the upstream consequences around the tar sands megaproject. In Alberta, First Nations communities are being displaced and poisoned by tar sands operations, and are experiencing deleterious health impacts as a result.
The extension of Canada's pipeline network to transport diluted bitumen through communities and Indigenous territories signals to Canadians and to the international community, that the government's primary objective is to bring resources to market, regardless of impacts on climate change. Expansion of the tar sands is the number one contributor to Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and the most obvious obstruction to meeting our reduction targets. You note that the overarching goal must be "to take the lead in implementing the government's plan for a clean environment and a sustainable economy," and that we must "ensure that we fulfil our promises, while living within our fiscal plan." We support the development of a sustainable economy, but one that recognizes that the overarching limits we must abide by are not those governed by economic incentives or market mechanisms. Rather, they are the finite ecological limits of our planet -- limits that have been pushed to their breaking point by projects like the tar sands. Under a new review process, it is therefore imperative the NEB take seriously the mitigation of climate change impacts generated by tar sands infrastructure
Furthermore, in your mandate letter you express that there is no relationship more important "than the one with Indigenous Peoples." First Nations communities in Ontario and Quebec have been on the frontlines of this fight, resisting Line 9 and the social, economic and ecological risks it poses to the land and to their communities. You say that "it is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership," and yet treaty rights are being expressly and illegally denied with the advancement of this project.
The approval of the Line 9B pipeline and the current 'Leave to Open' status, were decisions imposed on residents of Canada by a non-elected regulator composed of biased corporate actors prioritizing industry goals and objectives. You have advised that "it is important that [the federal government] acknowledge mistakes when we make them." It is our strongly held conviction that the prior government's support for the NEB structure and review process has resulted in an erroneous decision that threatens communities, water sources, local ecosystems, and the planet.
We ask that you do more than simply acknowledge this mistake, but promptly take the actions necessary to correct it.
We therefore call on the federal government to restructure the NEB to implement a robust, transparent, and democratic review process with priority given to the following provisions:
- upstream and downstream impacts
- contribution to catastrophic climate change
- respect of Indigenous Treaty Rights
Given the disregard for these considerations during the original Line 9 NEB hearings, and your statement that NEB restructuring would prompt a review of existing projects and pipelines, we demand the Line 9 reversal project be immediately halted and re-assessed under this new NEB structure and review process.
Please find the attached report Not Worth The Risk, a detailed report which summarizes community concerns of the Line 9 reversal project: http://noline9wr.ca/sites/default/files/NEB_report_final.pdf
Thank you for your time and we look forward to your response.
Organizations who signed this letter to Trudeau:
Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP)
Action Environnement Basses Laurentides
Alerte Pétrole Rive-Sud
Anglican Diocese of Toronto -- Social Justice and Advocacy Committee
Artial : art et social
Association citoyenne Saint-Marc sur Richelieu
Association madelinienne pour la sécurité énergétique et environnementale (AMSÉE)
Centre de recherche en éducation et formation relatives à l'environnement et à l'écocitoyenneté, UQÀM
Centre for Social Justice
Cercle des Premières Nations de l'UQÀM (CPNUQAM)
Chippawas of the Thames First Nation
Chorale du peuple (Occupons Montréal)
Ciel et Terre
Les Citoyens au Courant
Coalition québécoise pour une gestion responsable de l'eau, Eau Secours!
Coalition vigilance oléoducs (CoVO)
Collectif de lutte écologiste étudiant de l'Université de Montréal (CLEE -- UdeM)
Comité de vigilance environnementale de l'Est de Montréal (CVEEM)
Comité Vigilance Hydrocarbures de Saint-Sulpice
Comité Vigilance Hydrocarbures de Brandon
Comité Vigilance Hydrocarbures de l'Assomption
Comité Vigilance Hydrocarbures de l'Épiphanie
Comité Vigilance Hydrocarbures de Repentigny
Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain-CSN
Council of Canadians (National)
Council of Canadians (Guelph)
Council of Canadians (Quinte)
Council of Canadians (Toronto)
Enjeux énergies et environnement
Friends of the Rouge Watershed
Groupe de Recherche d'Intérêt Public de l'Université du Québec à Montréal (GRIP-UQÀM)
Guelph Against Pipelines
Jane Finch Action Against Poverty
Justice Climatique Montréal / Climate Justice Montreal
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Mouvement Québécois pour une Décroissance Conviviale
Mouvement Tache d'huile
Municipalité de Sainte-Justine-de-Newton
Mur de femmes contre les oléoducs et les sables bitumineux
NON à une marée noire dans le Saint-Laurent
Oléoduc Laval en amont (OLEA)
Organisme de bassin versant de la baie Missisquoi (OBVBM)
Organisme de bassin versant du Témiscamingue (OBVT)
Organisme de bassin versant Matapédia-Restigouche (OBVMR)
Organisme de bassins versants de Kamouraska, L'Islet et Rivière-du-Loup (OBAKIR)
Organisme de bassins versants Duplessis (OBVD)
Organisme des bassins versants de la Haute-Côte-Nord (OBVHCN)
Quinte Biosphere Defenders
Regroupement citoyen contre les bitumineux et pour le développement durable
Regroupement des organismes de bassins versants du Québec (ROBVQ)
Regroupement Vigilance Hydrocarbures Québec
Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE)
Rising Tide Toronto
Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly -- Milieu de vie
Scarborough Bitumen Free Future
Science for Peace
Sierra Club Québec
STOP Oléoduc Bellechasse-Lévis
STOP Oléoduc Capitale Nationale
STOP Oléoduc Montmagny-L'Islet
STOP Oléoduc Portneuf Saint-Augustin
Toronto East End Against Line (
Toronto Seed Library
Toronto Enviromental Alliance (TEA)
Toronto West End Against Line 9
U of T Graduate Students' Union Executive Committee
University of Toronto Graduate Students' Union Environmental Justice and Sustainability Committee
Waterloo Region Against Line 9
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This was originally appeared on East End Against Line 9 and is reprinted with permission.
Photo: DeSmog: http://bit.ly/1Y4Xmtq