Appeal of Enbridge Line 9 pipeline approved by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will allow the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation the chance to appeal a plan by Enbridge Pipelines to use a line through southern Ontario to Quebec to move oilsands bitumen from Western Canada.

It's a decision being applauded by Chief Leslee White-Eye, who said in a statement members of the First Nation were "distressed" when the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal and "failed to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Treaty rights."

"The court did not consider previous decisions, which establish the Crown's duty to meaningfully consult with and accommodate us on projects that may potentially impact those rights, such as Line 9," she said.

Line back online in November

Line 9B is a 639 km section of Line 9. It runs parallel to Highway 401 from North Westover, Ont., southeast of Cambridge, to Montreal.

In 1976, Line 9 was used to carry bitumen, an unrefined oil that has a similar consistency to molasses, to refineries in Quebec. In 1998, Enbridge reversed the line to carry bitumen out west where refineries could process the cheaper, foreign crude oil.

In 2012, Enbridge started the process to reverse the flow of Line 9 once again because Canadian crude oil was once again priced significantly lower than foreign sources.

The National Energy Board (NEB) approved the application on March 6, 2014, but placed 30 conditions on that approval.

In November, Enbridge told CBC News the line had returned to service, moving 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day.

Reversal protested

Several groups have protested the reversal and expansion of Line 9B. Enbridge has reported a few cases where equipment on the line has been tampered with and protests were held in Toronto, Montreal and Cambridge.

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation appealed the NEB decision to the Federal Court of Appeals, which dismissed it. Justice Donald Rennie was the lone dissenter, saying he would have allowed the appeal because the NEB was required to do a consultation analysis as a precondition to approving Enbridge's application.

Thursday's ruling by the Supreme Court will now allow the First Nation to appeal that ruling.

"The path before us is still long as we continue to seek protection of our Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We need to bring home that we are not acting alone in the action, nor that it is for our sole benefit, but an attempt to seek protection of our water –these energy developments are one of many across the nation impacting our rights," Chief White-Eye said.

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