Greens Welcome Ontario Refining Jobs: Fear Pipeline Spills without Appropriate Regulations

The Green Party is concerned about the conditions under which Enbridge Gas is reversing the flow of crude oil in its Line 9 (Sarnia-Hamilton) pipeline. While the Green Party welcomes the immediate plan to refine light crude in Canada for Canadian markets, which is important for national energy security, the current plan is worrying because it envisions a transition to lower grades of crude oil, including tar sands oil.

“In the wake of the 2010 Enbridge spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan and findings of US regulators that its corporate culture resembled ‘Keystone Kops,’ you would think Enbridge would have read the riot act to all its operations to avoid spills.  But just days ago, Enbridge had a new pipeline spill in Wisconsin,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “I am all in favour of getting Alberta oil to refineries in Eastern Canada, but the reversal of Line 9 must be approved only if and when the pipeline is refurbished to the highest industry standards.  Bitumen crude and diluents are almost impossible to clean up. Canada’s energy security can be enhanced if, and only if, Enbridge accepts its responsibility to operate Line 9 to higher standards.”

Green Party Energy Critic Cathy MacLellan said, “Line 9 is aging, and cannot be expected to handle the much more corrosive tar sands crude.  If tar sands crude is sent through Line 9, we can expect the kinds of spills that had devastating consequences for the Kalamazoo River two years ago.  At the very least, projects like this require investment in new infrastructure to meet any safety standards. Canada needs to rapidly develop clean, reliable and renewable energy systems.”

“Avoiding catastrophic levels of global climate change requires keeping fossil fuels, both conventional and unconventional, in the ground, essentially as long as their proposed end use is burning for energy.  As the future feedstock for petrochemicals, the resource has value forever. We need a plan to phase out fossil fuel dependency as quickly as possible,” said Climate Change Critic Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu.

The Green Party welcomes the plan to refine Canadian crude in Canada.  However, any expansion of tar sands extraction is not acceptable.  In addition, pipelines that carry tar sands crude must be built to a higher standard to prevent spills.