Enbridge’s proposal to build a new 48–inch fracked gas pipeline across rural Hamilton now has been submitted to the Ontario Energy Board. The company wants a spring approval for the $200 million fossil fuel project that cuts across some of Hamilton’s most ecologically sensitive lands including the Beverly Swamp, Spencer Creek and Bronte Creek, and publicly owned properties of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.
The project is also controversial because it assumes even more use of fossil fuels that are the main cause of global heating. That’s further complicated by the pipeline gas being extracted by fracking — a process which some scientists believe makes it even more damaging to the atmosphere than coal or oil.
Construction of the brand new pipe from Kirkwall to just east of Highway 6 will require permits from the city, three conservation authorities and the province. It would be located entirely inside the Greenbelt with most of it crossing lands and wetlands designated by Hamilton as environmentally significant.
For the ten kilometre pipeline, the company is securing a 28–metre wide permanent easement plus almost as much temporary land to accommodate its construction work. In its application to the OEB, Enbridge warns that “bedrock will be encountered” and that it “will be removed by hoe–ram or blasting.”
The pipe bolsters Enbridge’s Dawn Parkway system that connects Sarnia to Toronto, but it would be conveying gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Pennsylvania. The company’s economic justification rests substantially on the relatively low cost of this fracked gas and the opportunity to sell it back to the United States.
“Increasing demand, and especially peak demand, in eastern Canada and the U.S. Northeast, coupled with limitations on pipeline development in New York and New England, makes Dawn an important transportation and storage location for Marcellus/Utica gas destined for those markets,” states the application.
That’s underlined by a consultant study commissioned by Enbridge and submitted with their application to the OEB which states: “climate change policy in the Northeastern US, Ontario and Québec is expected to limit growth in annual natural gas demand. However, the lack of new pipeline development in New York and New England is expected to ensure that existing pipeline capacity will continue to be highly valued and utilized, particularly during peak periods, through 2040.”
The “lack of new pipeline development” isn’t further explained. There are strong anti–pipeline movements in Pennsylvania, New York and other eastern seaboard states. The State of New York has banned fracking and is opposing construction of new fossil fuel pipelines.
The Enbridge application makes no direct comments on the climatic impacts of the product it is shipping or the reasons why “climate change policy is expected to limit growth in annual natural gas demand”. The climate emergency has led a number of US states and municipalities to ban new gas infrastructure, most recently is San Jose California where gas pipes will no longer be permitted in new residential buildings.
Hamilton 350 Committee members opposing the Enbridge pipeline have spoken to Hamilton city council at least three times, and have also made presentations to the Hamilton, Halton and Grand River conservation authority boards urging each to deny permits for the project. Over half the pipeline route is in the Bronte Creek watershed governed by Conservation Halton.
The Enbridge application is endorsed by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Flamborough Chamber. The latter predicts “an increased demand for natural gas” while the former argues that “natural gas is a critical component to the success of businesses in Hamilton providing low cost, affordable energy when every dollar counts.”V
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