Citizen Action Monitor

Growing Canadian and US opposition to plan to pipe dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to Maine

Given disastrous 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture in Michigan, and company’s “Keystone Cops” response, public has right to be concerned

No 660 Posted by fw, January 22, 2013

Thanks to the citizens at Hamilton CATCH News for a further update on this story. Subheadings have been added to the post below. To read the original report, click on the hyperlinked title.

Protests expand against tar sands pipeline, Hamilton CATCH News, January 21, 2013

“All existing and proposed pipelines will be needed to ship the tar sands production already approved”

Protests are planned this week as new evidence emerges that Enbridge Inc plans to export diluted bitumen through Ontario from Alberta’s tar sands to markets in the US and China. There’s a local march on Saturday coinciding with actions in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and numerous US locations against the proposed use of the company’s 38-year-old Line 9 pipeline that passes through Hamilton on its way from Sarnia to Montreal.

In a report issued late last week, the Pembina Institute says all existing and proposed pipelines will be needed by 2020 to ship the tar sands production already approved. This includes the partly constructed Keystone XL heading south through the US (980,000 barrels per day), the proposed Northern Gateway aimed westerly across British Columbia (525,000 barrels per day), and the smallest but already existing Enbridge eastern route that includes Line 9 that the company is seeking to expand to 300,000 barrels per day.

Opponents allege Enbridge misinformed public about its intentions to “only occasionally export dilbit”

Enbridge officials have previously argued that Line 9 will only occasionally transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) and have suggested the reversal of the flow direction in this pipeline will mainly serve to provide cheaper western Canadian oil to Ontario and points east. At present, however, there are no refineries east of Sarnia capable of upgrading dilbit, except one in New Brunswick not accessible by pipeline and the business media says it is apparently financially viable.

That has helped convince opponents that Enbridge is reviving earlier plans to export dilbit via an Exxon Mobil pipeline that runs from Montreal to Portland, Maine. That’s definitely the view of the huge climate action group who are coordinating anti-Line 9 actions this week.

Now clear that dirty tar sands oil will be moved through Ontario, Quebec, New England to Maine (to China)

“ExxonMobil is gearing up to move dirty tar sands oil east through Ontario and Quebec into New England to reach a shipping port in Portland, Maine,” says a statement from Tar Sands 350 Northeast in Boston. “But the people of eastern Canada and New England have their own plan and are forming a wall of opposition to keep the east tar sands free.”

Rallies planned in states affected by Enbridge/ExxonMobil proposal

More than a dozen rallies and meetings are planned in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire including a march in Portland, Maine to the dock on the Atlantic capable of loading oil tankers. has been widely credited with convincing US president Barack Obama to at least temporarily halt the Keystone XL pipeline.

Hamilton 350 Committee plans protest actions for this Saturday, January 26, 2013

The affiliated Hamilton 350 Committee on climate change will lead a 4 pm march across Burlington on Saturday from the central library on New Street to Spencer Smith Park on the waterfront to draw attention to the potential of bitumen spills into local waterways flowing into Lake Ontario. The march will be preceded by a free film showing at the library starting at 2 pm sponsored by multiple local groups.

Burlington organizing public meeting, several other Ontario cities pressing for full federal environmental assessment

Burlington’s mayor and council received a staff report and heard from Burlington Green in early December and are now organizing a public meeting for February 7 in lieu of receiving an Enbridge delegation at a regularly scheduled council committee as was done in Hamilton last fall. Mayor Rick Goldring says his city hasn’t decided how best to respond to the Enbridge plans, but several other cities including Hamilton and Toronto, as well as the Hamilton Conservation Authority are pressing for a full federal environmental assessment of the Enbridge proposals that were formally filed with the National Energy Board in late November.

Given disastrous 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture in Michigan, and company’s “Keystone Cops” response, public has right to be concerned

In addition to the substantial climatic impacts of the Canadian tar sands developments, there is concern about the safety of transporting diluted bitumen through an old pipe, especially after a disastrous 2010 rupture that contaminated 60 km of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and which has so far cost Enbridge over $800 million to clean up. Dozens of residents in the area were sickened by the release of the volatile diluents used by Enbridge to make the molasses-like bitumen flow through a pipeline, and the US National Transportation Safety Board slammed the company for responding “like Keystone Cops”.


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