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“Watson Reluctant to take sides on Pipeline”

That is the caption of an article in today’s Ottawa Citizen.  The article goes on to quote the Mayor:

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we have to do a better job as elected officials, but at the same time I think before anyone jumps to conclusions and jumps on one bandwagon or the other, let the National Energy Board do its work.”

“We need to ensure that we’re at the highest safety standards in the world and that there are emergency backup plans if, for instance, there is a spill.”

According to the Citizen article the mayor suggested that a pipeline might be safer than other modes of moving crude oil across the land.  “The alternative is what we saw in Lac Megantic, and we see trains transporting oil.  There are no great alternatives and we have to look and see which one is the best and the safest for our citizens,” Watson said.

The Mayor went on to say that the City has “observer” status during the energy board’s review of the pipeline project.

The problem with the City just letting the National Energy Board do its’ work is that our City Representatives will have no voice until after the recommendations of the Board are placed before the Federal Government for decision.  Observer status means the City will have no standing at the hearings other than as an observer.  Participants, on the other hand, will have an opportunity to put statements and evidence before the Board helping to inform the Board’s decision making process.  The City, had they applied to be a participant, would not have had to take sides for or against the pipeline.  Instead, they would have had the opportunity to represent their constituents and insist on the safety and protection of City infrastructure, water sources, the environment and emergency preparedness.   Having no standing in the process is unfortune. Most Communities along the pipeline route as well as the Province of Ontario have applied to be participants.  Perhaps the City could still seek special dispensation from the Board to do so and help inform the NEB’s process.

The RVA has applied for “participant” status.  If approved as a “participant” by the National Energy Board we will be putting forward a position that at minimum seeks to protect and indemnify the residents of Richmond from a disaster should one occur.   Hopefully our elected officials at the municipal, provincial and federal levels will support such a basic demand.