Protests over the flow reversal of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline have forced a delay of the final statements in hearings regarding the future of the project.
Protests have followed the Line 9 hearings, and in a press release issued last Friday by the National Energy Board (NEB) announced that hearings would be pushed back to an as yet undetermined date.
“The end of today’s hearing raised concerns with respect to the security of participants. As a consequence, the reply argument of the applicant Enbridge Pipelines Inc., has been postponed to a future date to be determined,” said Sheri Young, the secretary of the NEB.
Protesters associated with several groups, including Idle No More and Rising Tide Toronto, gathered outside of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to publicly voice their concerns.
According to the CBC, once the protesters were inside the building, chanting ensued and a brief altercation with security followed. Security then removed the members of the review panel. On Friday evening the NEB released their press release delaying the final stage of the hearing.
“They listened to everybody who put in an application and had been approved to participate in the hearing in Montreal and Toronto. They were able to complete the listening phase of the hearing, but at the end of all of that there’s an opportunity for Enbridge, who’s the proponent of this project, to respond and that didn’t get to happen because of the concern about security,” says Enbridge public relations representative Ken Hall.
Hall says that he expects the the hearings will be completed within the next two weeks, and that they will be broadcast publicly wherever the NEB happens to hold them.
“The NEB issued a letter on Friday evening saying that they would reconvene to listen to our response arguments sometime within the next week or two at a location they still haven’t told us where but it will probably happen this week,” says Hall.
Rising Tide Toronto is a protest group and a registered intervener at the hearings. Taylor Flook, an organizer with Rising Tide Toronto, says that the NEB’s decision to delay the last section of the hearing is a move that furthers the overall inaccessibility of the hearings, which they say were already difficult to apply to. In addition to this, Flook says that there were numerous issues with the NEB’s online application process including technical issues, such as submission forms and links that did not work correctly.
“It was a pretty challenging process to apply, right away we recognized that without internet and technically savvy people, many were not going to be able to engage in this process. So we already started thinking about reaching out to communities and helping them apply,” says Flook.
The Line 9 pipeline runs from Sarnia to Montreal, and was completed in 1976. Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of the pipeline so that they can pump oil to refineries in Montreal.