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Court of Quebec sends oil company back before farmland protection commission

Montreal, February 23 2012 – In a legal case, Equiterre and citizens of Dunham versus Montreal Pipe Line Ltd., the Quebec Court has ruled that Montreal Pipe Line must go back to the drawing board, do their homework, and return before the province's farmland protection commission. The company must justify the need to build a new pumping station in Dunham. This pumping station is a component of Enbridge’s Trailbreaker pipeline project that would change the flow direction of an existing pipeline in order to bring tar sands oil from Alberta to Quebec.

"Thanks to this court decision, Quebec won’t import dirty oil from the tar sands for the time being. This infrastructure would allow the transportation of heavy tar sands crude in pipelines that are very old – the risk of spills and accidents is too high," said Steven Guilbeault, deputy director of Equiterre.

Enbridge has reported over 170 spills in its pipelines since 2002.

For these reasons, Equiterre, together with citizens of Dunham, filed a court challenge against Montreal Pipe Line in November 2011. In 2010, a decision from the Quebec Administrative Tribunal had found that the farmland protection commission had failed to require proof from Montreal Pipe Line that the pumping station could not be built without encroaching on agricultural land. The Montreal Pipe Line had challenged this decision in the Quebec Court, but the ruling of the lower court was upheld today – in favour of Equiterre and Durham citizens.

"Montreal Pipe Line must provide, by law, to the farmland protection commission the relevant analysis needed in order to make informed decisions. We believe that this decision will ensure that from now on the farmland protection commission will be more vigilant in ensuring companies take stronger action in order to protect our agricultural land," said Steven Guilbeault.

The Enbridge Trailbreaker project would bring more than 200,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands crude through Quebec each day. The Dunham pumping station would help transport the tar sands oil all the way to the United States. "Considering Quebec’s climate change commitments, the province should not encourage the reckless expansion of the Alberta tar sands, the source of Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution," said Steven Guilbeault.

Émilie Vallières