Enbridge pipeline in Ontario approved without public hearing; critic calls NEB claim "ridiculous"
An Ontario-based pipeline landowner's association representative raised questions over National Energy Board's quiet approval of Enbridge Line 7 with no public hearing and little notification of the project.
John Goudy, who works as a litigator who has represented landowners along the pipeline in NEB proceedings, criticized the NEB's decision as "ridiculous".
"The Board's decision is that there's no evidence our members are directly affected or have relevant information on the project, which is ridiculous, because the Board is well aware that Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association (OPLA) members are landowners along the pipeline," he said.
Many OPLA members are affected directly not only by Enbridge's Line 7, but also the Line 8 and Line 9 (now being debated for a controversial expansion and reversal project), which he said are "within a few feet" of each other.
Enbridge got the green light in late October, 2013, to increase capacity on Enbridge line 7 pipeline, which runs from Sarnia to Hamilton. The Board ruled that a hearing was "not warranted" due to the project's limited scope, saying that it expects Enbridge to engage with all stakeholders in the process. But the project is now raising alarm in Hamilton, where city officials say they'd never even heard of the project until the NEB had already approved it.
No recollection of Enbridge notifying landowners
Back in July 2013, the group's president, Margaret Vance, sent a letter of comment to the Board, questioning the NEB's claim that Enbridge had adequately informed stakeholders.
"I do not recall Enbridge notifying all of the landowners who have the pipeline crossing their farms about this application. I have canvassed all of the OPLA members that I have on the OPLA group by email, and not one of them have informed me that they knew anything about this application," she wrote.
The NEB's approval letter, however, stated that Enbridge had notified all potentially affected landowners and residents near the pipeline.
Excerpt from National Energy Board approval letter to Enbridge, dated Oct 29, 2013
Goudy readily acknowledged that the scope of the Line 7 pipeline was fairly limited compared to other major projects like the Line 9 reversal. The Line 7 expansion only means that capacity will be boosted from 147,000 to 180,000 barrels a day, moving oil from Alberta to eastern refineries.