Six Nations: Protesters halt Enbridge pipeline hearing

Warrior Publications. May 23:

Six Nations: Protesters halt Enbridge pipeline hearing

By JONATHAN SHER, The London Free Press, May 23, 2012

Native and Occupy protester have brought to a halt a hearing by the National Energy Board that environmentalists feared would bring oilsands oil to Ontario and eventually the United States.

Minutes after the hearing began protesters in the hearing room at the Hilton London began screaming chants with followers repeating the words of a leader.

Board members and Enbridge quickly cleared the room and natives from the Six Nations replaced them at the front of the room to speak out and detail their grievances.

One London-based protester was arrested and put in a police van after not leaving right away when requested.”

London police say they are planning how to re-gain control so the hearing can continue.

Enbridge, which was to speak first, 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. Whether that’s a boon to Ontario’s economy or a threat to its environment is a matter of fierce debate at the hearing that began Wednesday and was expected to last three days.

Environmentalists point to a rupture two years ago of an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan and say Londoners should be alarmed because the pipeline here crosses under the Thames River just north of the city.

Oil from the oilsands is heavier and more corrosive than lighter crude, environmentalists say, a claim disputed by Enbridge. As for the pipeline break in Michigan, investigators haven’t determined a cause, the company says.

Environmentalists also argue Enbridge’s push to reverse the flow of oil near London is just the first step toward moving oil to the U.S. east coast, something they fear would speed extraction and oilsands production and further degrade the global environment.

In a conference call this month with media and analysts for the benefit of investors, Enbridge’s leaders said it might someday renew efforts to get oil to the east coast. Environmentalists have asked the energy board to consider the broader effect of moving oil across Canada and in the U.S., but the board has repeatedly refused to do so, most recently Friday.

That’s frustrated environmentalists convinced Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives want to make Canada a petrostate — more than 40,000 have written the energy board, many from south of the border.

But Enbridge says current market conditions don’t support moving the oil to the U.S. east coast.

Enbridge last week said it would also apply to reverse oil flow as far east as Montreal. The energy board won’t give a thumbs-up or down on Enbridge’s proposal but will decide on the breadth of the environmental review, said Albert Koehl, a lawyer with Ecojustice representing environmental groups at next week’s hearing.

Further readings: “Native groups unhappy with pipeline reversal plan”. Toronto Star.

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