Native groups unhappy with pipeline reversal plan – by John Spears (Toronto Star – May 24, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

LONDON, ONT.— The impacts of reversing the flow of an Enbridge oil pipeline between Sarnia and Hamilton are “minimal and manageable,” the company’s lawyer told a National Energy Board hearing Wednesday.

But aboriginal groups disagreed – both inside and outside the hearings at a London hotel.

Traditionalist members of the Six Nations reserve near Brantford forced the hearings to adjourn for several hours just as they got going Wednesday morning, as they complained the hearings were illegitimate and undemocratic.

Once the hearings had resumed in the afternoon, Chief Christopher Plain of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia complained that his members “have not been consulted in a meaningful way” in the energy board process.

Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of crude oil in its pipeline. It now flows westward to refineries in Sarnia, after being imported by tanker into Montreal.

Enbridge wants to reverse the flow eastward, bringing crude oil from western Canada eastward to the Westover terminal near Hamilton.

It says Imperial Oil wants the oil for its refinery in Nanticoke.

While the hearings only deal with the Sarnia-Hamilton portion of the pipeline, Enbridge said last week that it would like to reverse the pipeline for its entire length, all the way to Montreal.

It also said the line might carry heavy crude – which could include oil sands crude – as well as light crude from traditional oil fields.

Critics of the project have said that oil sands crude is more corrosive than light crude, and increases the risks of spills and breaks. Oil sands crude it also harder to clean up.

But Enbridge lawyer Douglas Crowther insisted that’s not the case, calling those statements “ill informed and unsubstantiated.”

He also denied that the project is part of a plan to bring oil sands crude to east coast ports, and send it to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Rather, he said, the plan is to supply eastern Canada with western Canadian oil instead of imported oil.

That boosts Canadian energy security, he argued. It also gives western oil producers access to a market with higher prices than they are currently receiving.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website:–first-nations-protesters-disrupt-enbridge-pipeline-hearing