Crossing the (pipe)line: Waterloo Region joins the fight against Line 9
Author: Kathryn Wettlaufer
Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 9 pipeline has been in the news a lot this summer due to fierce opposition which now includes the local campaign “Waterloo Region Against Line 9”. Across the country, there have been public demonstrations and direct actions, as well as a federal lawsuit recently launched against the Harper government over their restrictions to public participation in the National Energy Board hearings, which will decide whether to approve or deny phase II of the Line 9 project.
The resistance is set to continue this fall with the NEB hearings coming up in October. But what the heck is Line 9, anyway? And why should folks living and studying in Waterloo care about it? Here’s the issue in a nutshell.
Line 9 is a 38-year-old pipeline that has been transporting light crude oil between Montreal, QC, and Sarnia, ON. The pipeline runs through hundreds of com m unities, the territories of many Indigenous nations, and dozens of watersheds, including our very own Grand River here in Waterloo Region. Enbridge has applied to reverse the flow of the pipeline and send diluted bitumen (also known as “dilbit”), a form of heavy crude from the tar sands, through the existing pipeline. But Line 9 wasn’t built to withstand the transport of this type of oil. Though Enbridge likes to claim that this project is safe, in 2010, there was a break in the nearly-identical Enbridge Line 6B pipeline in Kalamazoo, MI, that caused the largest inland oil spill in American history—which the company is still struggling to clean up three years later. The same thing could happen here if Line 9 is approved.
Another serious issue for us here at UW is how the Line 9 project violates current treaties with Indigenous communities. Our campus exists on (stolen) indigenous land that rightly belongs to the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Confederacy. But in violation of international treaty law, there has been no free, prior, and informed consent for this project from Six Nations or any of the other 17 Indigenous communities along the Line 9 route, which already cuts through their lands and territories. As residents on the Haldimand Tract, it is crucial that we respect and act on this responsibility to consult, especially for a project like Line 9 which threatens the well-being of the entire watershed.
When Enbridge proposed essentially the same project as the Line 9 reversal in 2008, under the name “Trailbreaker”, it was successfully opposed based on safety concerns. Enbridge may think they’re being clever by seeking approval for the project piece by piece instead—the reversal of the first half last year, and the second half plus the transport of bitumen this year—but there are no new reasons for the people to accept it now. The threats remain just as serious.
So, what can UW students do? Go to noline9wr.ca to sign the Declaration of Opposition as an individual and learn how to get involved in the campaign. Also ask your professors, student societies, and campus clubs to become signatories and join the Waterloo Region Coalition against Line 9. Come on, UW, it’s time to cross the Line.
For more information, visit www.noline9wr.ca.
This article appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 of The Chevron on 5 September 2013.