Enbridge has withdrawn its application for approval of a new natural gas pipeline across rural Hamilton.
The company, in a letter sent Thursday to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), cites reduced customer demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic as its reason for not needing to move ahead with the project “in the time frame as originally proposed.”
Enbridge says it will reassess customer demand in 2021 and bring a new application to the OEB for approval “as sufficient need can be confirmed in the future.”
Don McLean, spokesman for the climate action group Hamilton 350, says there may be factors other than the pandemic that have contributed to Enbridge’s decision, noting that “there has been a lot of opposition.”
BREAKING: We’ve just heard that Enbridge is withdrawing their application to run a new fracked gas pipeline across rural #HamOnt! They blame the pandemic, but we know that organized resistance has played a role. They say they may try again next year, but we’ll be ready!
— Hamilton 350 (@Hamilton_350) October 22, 2020
The new 48-inch diameter pipeline would require Enbridge to widen an existing easement through the environmentally sensitive Beverly Swamp, and across both Spencer Creek and Bronte Creek.
McLean notes that the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) board voted unanimously to require an ecological study of the pipeline route and an independent peer review before it would consider providing the easements sought by Enbridge.
The HCA’s position was later endorsed unanimously by Hamilton City Council.
“It’s crazy that anyone is even contemplating expanding fossil fuel infrastructure when we are in a climate emergency,” McLean says.
McLean adds that his grassroots organization will remain on alert and continue “watching this situation.”
An Enbridge representative appeared before city councillors in February, prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the $206-million project would follow an existing pipeline corridor, create jobs and generate new tax revenue for Hamilton.
The company then put the project on hold in May, ahead of a scheduled OEB hearing, as it waited to see how “uncertainties” would affect future demand for fuel.
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