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Enbridge Pipelines Inc. - Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project, Canada

"Aboriginal rights have once again been stepped on," said Chippewas of the Thames First Nation chief after Canada's highest court ruling.


Enbridge Pipelines Inc. - Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project is a Canadian national energy project that proposes to redirect a crude oil pipeline that leads from Montreal, Quebec to Sarnia, Ontario. The goal of this project is to reverse the flow of oil from Montreal to Sarnia, so as to supply refineries in Montreal and  Eastern Canada with domestically sourced Canadian oil. The proposed reversal involves refitting and expanding the already existing pipeline from 240,000 bpd to 300,000 bpd [1]. Opposition to this project is derived mainly from environmentalists, affected communities, individual land owners, and Indigenous First Nations along the proposed route. This pipeline has a long history of contentious debate and political motives surrounding it. Built in 1976, Enbridge Line 9 is 831 kilometers in length and divided into two sections. Line 9A runs from Sarnia to North Westover, Ontario, and Line 9B runs from North Westover to Montreal East. The pipeline travels through much of rural Southern Ontario and Southwestern Quebec, both areas of substantial agriculture and inland river systems. Line 9 also passes within 50 km of an estimated 9.1 million people, including 18 First Nation communities, and directly through 99 towns and cities [1]. As a result, Enbridge’s pipeline affects or has the potential to affect nearly a quarter of Canada’s population and some of the nation’s most ecologically sensitive areas. Issues of concern raised by the projects opponents, include the increased risk of oil spills and leakages along the pipelines route, damage to ecologically sensitive areas, possible water pollution and quality problems, concerns for species at risk, and First Nations rights. The latter, being openly presented in a court challenge of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., [3] where the Chippewas First Nation claim that Enbridge and the National Energy Board (NEB) failed in their ‘duty to consult’ with the local residents. Significant public attention was brought to this proposed project and to the First Nations court case, because the pipeline passes through the backyard of so many Canadians. 

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Enbridge Pipelines Inc. - Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project, Canada
State or province:Ontario
Location of conflict:North Westover
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Enbridge Pipelines Inc. - Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project is a Canadian national energy project involving a pipeline that travels from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. The proposed project would see a reversal of crude oil flow from Montreal to Sarnia, and an expansion of pipeline capacity from 240,000 barrels per day to 300,000 bpd. Line 9 is 821 km long, and passes within 50 km of an estimated 9.1 million people, including 18 First Nation communities, and directly through 99 towns and cities.

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Project area:4,155,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project110,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:9.1 million people along the Quebec-Windsor Corridor.
Start of the conflict:29/11/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Enbridge Pipelines Inc. from Canada
Enbridge Inc. from Canada
Relevant government actors:Federal Conservative Government of Canada
Liberal Party of Ontario
National Energy Board (NEB)
Government of Ontario
Government of Quebec
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)\
Ontario Association of Municipalities
Quebec Association of Municipalities
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Defense Canada (
Greenpeace Canada (
The Council of Canadians (
Pembina Institute (
Nature Conservancy of Canada (
Nature Canada (
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (
Ecojustice (
Line 9 Communities (
The People versus Line 9 (
Chippewas Solidarity (
Stand Earth (
Indigenous Environmental Network (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Global warming
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsIrreparable damage to Class-A agricultural land in Southern Ontario and Southwestern Quebec.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsPotential: Sickness or death as a result of polluted water, Injury or death as a result of pipeline explosion. Long-term health consequences associated with contaminated water.
Other: Increases in cancer and respiratory problems as a result of increased gas emissions in the atmosphere.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood (Farmers), Land dispossession, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures (Aboriginal), Violations of human rights (Aboriginal), Lower land and property values, Decline of rural tourism and communal aesthetic appeal.
Potential: The displacement of Indigenous and urban/rural residents as a result of water contamination/pollution, further depreciated land values, population decline of rural/urban communities near Enbridge Line 9, and national crisis/human loss from an explosion or oil spill.
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Abandonment of the proposed reversal by Enbridge and a study on how to decommission the pipeline, as alternative energies displace the future need for oil in Eastern Canada.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:On July 26, 2017 the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a legal challenge by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, ruling that Enbridge and the NEB fulfilled their ‘duty to consult’ under the constitution[3]. The Chippewas First Nation was seeking to have the reversal of Line 9 abandoned, and stopping the expansion of capacity for Western Canadian bitumen from flowing from Alberta to Montreal. The ruling affirmed that Enbridge’s operations could continue unopposed. This sets the precedent according to the Chippewas that indigenous rights may be freely trampled upon, even when the current government makes promises of affirming indigenous rights and strengthening indigenous relationships.
Insult to injury was added by the ruling that the Chippewas First Nation were to award costs to Enbridge Inc. for the legal fees they incurred throughout the courts proceedings. As a facet of comparison, the Chippewas First Nation, a community of only 3,000 people, incurred legal costs of over $600,000 since 2012. One can only image that Enbridge spend considerably more on their defense than that of the small First Nation community, thus the Chippewas of the Thames are obliged to pay possibly millions to Enbridge, while at the same time their environment is degraded by the same company.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., 2017 SCC 41, [2017] 1 S.C.R. 1099

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Enbridge Line 9 Reversal and Capacity Expansion Project. Retrieved from

[2] Vasey, D., Grant, S., & Saunders, S. (2103, January 23). Ethical Enbridge? The real story of Line 9 and the tar sands giga-project . Retrieved from

[3] Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., 2017 SCC 41, [2017] 1 S.C.R. 1099

[4] Wu, H. (2014). A Case Study of the National Energy Board Decision: Enbridge Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project. Ryerson University: Toronto. [Major Research Paper].

[5] Government of Canada, National Energy Board. (2017, July 24). Enbridge Pipelines Inc. - Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project - OH-002-2013. Retrieved from

[6] Ferguson, E. (2013, September 05). Local Maps. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from

NEB: Line 9 Reversal and Capacity Expansion Project
[click to view]

Enbridge: Line 9 Reversal and Capacity Expansion Project
[click to view]

The Council of Canadians: Line 9
[click to view]

Rabble Blog: “Enbridge's 'domestic' Line 9 is destined to export oil -- without Indigenous consent”
[click to view]

Line 9 Communities
[click to view]

Rabble News: “Ethical Enbridge? The real story of Line 9 and the tar sands giga-project”
[click to view]

CBC News: Enbridge Line 9
[click to view]

Facebook: The People versus Enbridge Line 9
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

VIDEO: Enbridge Line 9 Protests in Montreal
[click to view]

VIDEO: Rock the Line: Rocking out to say no to Line 9
[click to view]

VIDEO: LINE 9 (2014) Documentary
[click to view]

VIDEO: Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Enbridge Line 9
[click to view]

VIDEO: Hundreds Protest Enbridge’s Line 9 Pipeline
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Derrick Carruthers – [email protected] – Bishop’s University
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3397
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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