Climate change is one of the major issues of our time. We do not believe that developing the oil sands will make us an “energy super-power.” We believe a 21st Century energy superpower is built on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and developing renewable sources of power. That’s why I’m representing the groups Environmental Defence and Equiterre at public hearings this week to oppose a plan by corporate giant Enbridge to send Western crude to Ontario and Quebec.

This morning, Ecojustice and several other ENGOs will attend the National Energy Board hearing on Line 9 in London, Ont. Enbridge is looking to reverse Line 9, which helps send oil west from the east coast to Sarnia, Ont. The company wants to make the oil travel east from Sarnia. That means the pipeline could, for the first time, carry oil sands crude across Ontario and into Quebec. Oil from the oil sands is significantly dirtier than conventional crude. The evidence is clear despite energy spin to the contrary.

We want to ensure the project doesn’t threaten our health or our future. We also want to make sure that if Ontario and Quebec are to be used as conduits for oil sands crude that the plan is fully and publicly scrutinized – and accepted. Unfortunately, the current plan is a piece-meal approach that is looking at a small segment of the plan – despite a recent public announcement by Enbridge that a bigger plan is already in the works. Indeed Enbridge has announced it will spend about $3 billion on an ‘Eastern Access’ strategy that includes sending Western crude from Sarnia to Hamilton and Montreal refineries, and likely beyond.

If Ontario and Quebec are to become facilitators of oil sands expansion we believe the public has a right to know and to have such plans fully and openly scrutinized, and publicly accepted.

Canada is already one of the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gas emissions. Our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, and recent revelations that the federal government has no plan to reduce emissions and will not reach its own reduction goals, doesn’t bode well. We have the ability to make decisions that will benefit us and future generations. We just need to build the will.