Reputation, Regulation and Social License to Operate
We are aware that some individuals and groups oppose our pipeline projects because of concern regarding local and regional environmental risks and impacts in the event of a spill or release. Others oppose them because they do not believe that oil pipelines are consistent with action on climate change.
We have undertaken a number of new initiatives and strategies to address these concerns, both at the operational level as well as at the policy and strategy level. In addition, we collaborate with industry associations, municipal government, Aboriginal and Native American governments and environmental organizations to share information about what we are doing to operate the safe and reliable pipelines that are needed now, as well as what we are doing to advance the transition to a lower-carbon future. For more information, please see the Strategy & Priorities, Energy & Climate Change, Renewable & Alternative Energy, R&D and Innovation, and Stakeholder Engagement sections of this report.
We are also aware that opposition and concern about pipelines has made regulators more aware of the need to improve public confidence in regulatory decision and processes involving energy projects, including new and existing pipeline infrastructure. As a result they are changing the way they are regulating pipeline projects and operations.
Below is a summary of our projects and operations that have, or are, the focus of government review processes. In some instances new regulatory requirements have—or are—lengthening approval times for our projects. In all cases we are working with regulators and other parties, including participating Aboriginal and Native American groups, to develop new approaches to improving public confidence in the approval and operation of our projects and operations.
In addition to being reviewed by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB), Enbridge’s Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion project was reviewed by the governments of Quebec and Ontario as well as by affected local governments. Before allowing the pipeline to go into service, the NEB ordered that three hydrostatic tests of Line 9 be conducted in order to provide assurance of safe operation. Among numerous other conditions for approval of the project, the NEB also required an ongoing approach to stakeholder engagement.
On September 30, 2015, the NEB confirmed that the project had met all of the necessary criteria and Line 9 returned to service in late 2015.
On December 19, 2013, a Joint Review Panel that consisted of representation from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued a report (the JRP Report) and recommended approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline (NGP), subject to 209 conditions, which include engaging with Aboriginal communities to address their concerns about the project. Since that time, NGP’s focus has been on meeting the project conditions, particularly conditions related to building Aboriginal involvement into the project. Court cases involving Aboriginal and environmental review issues associated with the project continued in 2015 as did debate over a moratorium on oil tanker traffic along B.C.’s north coast. NGP continued to engage with Aboriginal groups, governments and other stakeholders to address issues and concerns.
Line 5 Crossing, Straits of Mackinac (Michigan)
In 2015 the Michigan State te Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report recommended the establishment of a Pipeline Safety Advisory Board Comprising regulated stakeholders, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, the Board has a mandate to make recommendations to the State on pipeline safety issues. It is conducting an Independent Alternative Analysis and Risk Analysis for Enbridge’s Line 5 Crossing of the Straits of Mackinac. We are a participating member of the Board and are engaging with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) regarding the scope and design of the analyses.
In 2015, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that, where the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) deviated from its usual practice by conducting the certificate of need proceedings prior to the route permit proceedings for the Sandpiper pipeline, an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required to support the certificate of need decision. The need for an environmental review was never in dispute, but the mechanism and timing of the review had been unclear due to the different process followed by the MPUC for the Sandpiper pipeline. Ongoing procedural uncertainty has delayed both our Sandpiper pipeline and Line 3 Replacement program in Minnesota. We continue to engage with stakeholders and regulators to ensure these projects will meet expectations and requirements.
Line 3 Replacement Program (Canada)
In early 2016 the Canadian government expanded on its plans to update and modernize the National Energy Board (NEB) review process and the Canadian Environmental Assessment (CEA) process, beginning with a “transition process” for pipeline projects already before the NEB. As part of the transition process, Environment and Climate Change Canada will be assessing the upstream GHG emissions of pipeline projects. In addition, expanded government consultations with communities, particularly Aboriginal communities, will be undertaken. These new requirements will apply to Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement program in Canada.
2010 Crude Oil Spill in Michigan
In mid 2015, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and office of the Michigan Attorney General announced that they had reached a settlement with Enbridge regarding our 2010 crude oil spill near Marshall, Michigan. We completed the clean-up in the Kalamazoo River in 2014 and are now focused on long-term monitoring of the river system and control of invasive species. The 2015 settlement underscores our commitment to working with the State of Michigan to ensure the ongoing health of the river system and to working with people who use it to ensure ongoing environmental quality. For more information, please see the Business Conduct & Ethics section of this report.