Enbridge’s proposed fracked gas pipeline across rural Hamilton is facing unexpected challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and from the huge number of letters submitted to the Ontario Energy Board by individuals and organization opposed to the project. The process will now stretch at least into the summer.
During the “interrogatory” stage of the OEB hearings now underway, registered intervenors get to ask written questions of Enbridge. The company is required to respond – although it may argue some questions are illegitimate. Below we cite some of the more interesting questions facing the company.
As for the OEB schedule, it is going far later than the April 30 decision date demanded by Enbridge. An order issued by the OEB this week extends the question and answer period until the end of June, with hearings (which may still be oral) taking place sometime after that. The OEB decision responds to time extension requests filed by the Green Energy Coalition and Environmental Defence who are expected to file written evidence by a May 25 deadline. That will then be subject to questions by Enbridge as well as other intervenors. The OEB has ruled that answers to those queries can now be filed as late as June 29.
In addition to ecological and climatic concerns about the proposed pipeline, intervenors are pressing for explanations of why Enbridge has ruled out “demand-side management” measures (DSM) such as helping gas consumers to use less by improving efficiency and conservation.
For example, the Buildings Owners and Managers Association has asked “why did Enbridge not investigate specific DSM measures, tailored to the market to be served by the proposed pipeline, that would reduce demand/capacity in that market, and thereby offset some of the need for the proposed pipeline?”
The Consumers Council of Canada has noted that “hundreds of comments from stakeholders opposed to the Project have been filed with the OEB and can be found in the web drawer. How does Enbridge Gas Inc plan to address this input? How is this consistent with the evidence which states that EGI has not identified any strong opposition to the Project?” The OEB staff have also noted the public opposition and want to know what plans Enbridge has to address this for individuals, interest groups and municipalities including the City of Hamilton.
Several intervenors are demanding further explanations from Enbridge about its sale of gas to the New England states, why Ontario gas customers should be subsidizing this, and if the proposed Hamilton pipeline would be necessary if Enbridge was only providing for Ontario customers. The Power Producers Association wants Enbridge to “please explain why Ontario ratepayers should bear the risks associated with expanding the Canadian gas transportation system for the benefit of US Northeast and other export customers.”
OEB staff are also asking “whether the decline in oil prices is expected to impact the financial viability of oil and gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions,” and “please indicate if Enbridge Gas has considered deferring the consideration of the expansion project in light of the significant uncertainty in the recent economic outlook for Canada and the U.S.” Similar questions about the impact of COVID-19 have been filed by several other intervenors including the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the Association of Power Producers of Ontario.
And while the OEB has decided that climate change is not part of its mandate, there are questions related to how greenhouse gas emission policies will affect the viability of the pipeline. The Green Energy Coalition, for example is asking Enbridge to explain their “understanding of state and provincial commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and how those commitments would affect continued growth in gas shipments”, and whether the company expects “that California’s efforts to reduce natural gas use will provide a model for New York, New England and eastern Canada.” Some California municipalities have banned the installation of gas pipes into new homes.
Late on Friday afternoon, the Ontario Energy Board issued its second procedural order related to the proposed Enbridge fracked gas pipeline across rural Hamilton. As many of us expected, the OEB has decided that climate change is outside its mandate and that emissions from upstream fracking and downstream burning of the gas in the pipe will not be considered in its hearings on the Enbridge pipeline.
Thank you for your opposition to the new Enbridge fracked gas pipeline across rural Hamilton! There has been important momentum in the last few weeks, and we hope that will continue.
If you live in the Hamilton area, and wish to become actively part of the committee working to stop it, please email email@example.com.
You can also do more by asking your friends to sign the on-line petition at https://www.change.org/p/ontario-energy-board-stop-the-enbridge-fracked-gas-pipeline-in-hamilton-ontario. And you will likely want to attend the Feb 13 (this Thursday) free public talk by Jack Gibbons at the Hamilton Central Library starting at 7 pm. Jack is the Chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance which is also opposing the Hamilton pipeline. The meeting is co-sponsored by the Hamilton 350 Committee.
Many individuals and organizations have written to the Ontario Energy Board urging it to include climatic impacts in its pipeline hearings. Some of those letters are posted on the OEB website at http://www.rds.oeb.ca/HPECMWebDrawer/Record?q=CaseNumber%3DEB-2019-0159&sortBy=recRegisteredOn-&pageSize=400 along with other submissions and documents. We know many more letters have been submitted but have not yet appeared on this site. You may want to monitor it.
The registered intervenors in the hearings have also posted submissions, usually by their lawyers, and are adopting conflicting positions on the climate issue. Groups like the Ontario Power Producers and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters are opposing inclusion of climatic matters. So is a submission by STAFF of the OEB (the Board is the decision-maker).
Other groups like the Green Energy Coalition (representing several groups including the Hamilton 350 Committee) and Environmental Defence support examination of the climatic consequences of Enbridge pipeline. So does a particularly compelling submission by the School Energy Coalition. The City of Hamilton submissions are also posted on the website as well as comments of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.
Apologies to Councillor Maria Pearson who DID participate in council’s vote on Friday. We mistakenly credited Chad Collins with participating in city council’s vote on Friday on the Enbridge fracked gas pipeline. Collins was there for part of the day, but left before the vote. Pearson stayed and voted.
Public pressure with respect to the fracked gas pipeline that Enbridge wants to run across rural Hamilton is having an effect! Pasted below is a resolution adopted unanimously last night by the Hamilton Conservation Authority board after hearing a presentation by Hamilton 350. You will be pleased to read it. The resolution was moved by councillor Brad Clark and seconded by board member Jim Cimba. This is a significant step forward in our efforts to stop the proposed pipeline across rural Hamilton, and another reason to send a letter to the Ontario Energy Board if you haven't done so already.
For Immediate Release – February 4, 2020
OEB wondering if pipelines are connected to climate change
OEB asking the City of Hamilton and others
Could a new fracked gas pipeline affect climate change?
Check out the video clips from our Frontlines Not Pipelines event, in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en land defenders, that took place on January 20, 2020!
The Enbridge fracked gas pipeline across Hamilton is now officially under review by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). Amazingly, in 2020, this ENERGY board shows almost no interest in the climate emergency. Reply to this email if you want to help oppose this pipeline.
You need to immediately urge the Board to fully consider the climatic implications of this pipeline. These should include upstream methane emissions from extracting the gas by fracking, and downstream carbon dioxide emissions from burning of this fossil fuel. You should email your comments to BoardSec@oeb.ca and reference the “2021 Dawn Parkway Expansion Project”. Please write as soon as possible.
You can also point to the ecological damage from clearing the permanent pipeline easement that is the equivalent of an 8-9 lane highway and is entirely within the Greenbelt and across such ecologically significant areas as the Beverly Swamp, Spencer Creek and Bronte Creek. Enbridge estimates this new pipeline will require $120 million in increased gas payments from consumers. It also acknowledges that blasting is required to install the pipe in the bedrock along its route.
You can also urge others to sign the Hamilton 350 petition at https://www.change.org/p/ontario-energy-board-stop-the-enbridge-fracked-gas-pipeline-in-hamilton-ontario.
The Board published a notice on January 8 in the Hamilton Spectator. It invites comments but incredibly it does NOT provide an email address. You can use BoardSec@oeb.ca. You can examine other documents related to this fracked gas pipeline at http://www.rds.oeb.ca/HPECMWebDrawer/Record?q=CaseNumber%3DEB-2019-0159&sortBy=recRegisteredOn-&pageSize=400
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance has issued a two-page fact sheet you can view at https://www.cleanairalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Enbridges-Hamilton-Pipeline-Dec-2019.pdf
Hamilton 350 supports this call to action from the Hamilton chapter of Extinction Rebellion:
A CALL TO ACTION!
Members of Extinction Rebellion Canada, we are all watching government officials and hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en clash over the Coastal GasLink pipeline with outrage and concern. It feels like this is a defining moment in the fight to make meaningful change to the way human beings live on and relate to our land. Oil is not more important than blood. Money is not more important than life. Business as usual is not more important than the future of our children. We need to make it known. We need to send the message that we stand with Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders and demand the RCMP stand down.
Hamilton XR is proposing immediate action. This Thursday and Friday we are asking everyone, across this country to inundate our MPs with our message. Go to their offices, call their phones, email them. Tweet at them. Flood social media with our message. No access without consent. No more colonial violence. Canadians demand change.
Please, join us in our campaign. Spread the word in any and all ways you are able to. Find your MP information here: https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en
Use the hashtags that have been trending:
We can make noise. We can make it from our phones and computers if not in person. It takes little time and effort, but together we can be loud.
The fight against the fracked gas pipeline that Enbridge wants to put through rural Hamilton -- see this post for more detail on the proposal, and go here for a petition against the pipeline that you can sign and share -- is going to be a long one, and we will be asking you to take action in a number of ways in the coming months. The first one is easy: Send an email!
We want you to send an email to Christine Long, the secretary of the Ontario Energy Board, at BoardSec@ontarioenergyboard.ca. At this point, the OEB is deciding whether to allow Enbridge to simply submit written documents or whether to make them defend their proposal in an oral hearing. We feel strongly that the proposal should undergo an oral hearing. Please write to them and let them know that you think so too (and BCC us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are many reasons to take this position, and we encourage you to put it in your own words, but here are a few points you might want to make:
* the proposal raises significant issues and should be given thorough review
* the process must be made as open and transparent as possible, with as much opportunity as possible for the public to witness and participate
* the project crosses very ecologically significant land and puts water, wetlands, and endangered species at risk
* the project proposes to expand our supply of natural gas in the face of the climate emergency, when the science is telling us that we have to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels
* it would allow Enbridge to be questioned about whether reducing demand through greater energy efficiency might be more in the public interest than creating new fossil fuel infrastructure
For more detail on Enbridge's proposal and more information you can use in your email, go here.
On Wednesday morning starting at 9:30 am, Hamilton’s general issues committee will consider how the city will implement the climate emergency it declared nine months ago by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the expected local impacts of global heating. A multi-departmental task force will present its recommended “Goals and Areas of Focus for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation”.
Hamilton 350 Committee urges everyone concerned about global heating to attend and observe this public meeting. It will be held in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall and is open for all to attend and observe.
The committee is also expected to hear from numerous citizen delegates who will each have five minutes to respond to the climate emergency plans. Delegates are expected from several locally active climate groups including Environment Hamilton, the Hamilton 350 Committee, Extinction Rebellion and the student-led Fridays for Future movement.
Delegates are normally allowed to address the committee for five minutes and may use power point, video or other digital aids. Those wishing to be delegates need to apply by noon on Tuesday December 3 by completing an on-line form found at https://www.hamilton.ca/council-committee/council-committee-meetings/request-speak-committee-council-form.
The multi-departmental recommendations are described in several on-line documents posted on the city’s website. They include:
The delegations from residents will be heard before the staff presentation and councillor discussion.
For more information: email@example.com
Stay tuned for the latest 350 news.