TORONTO (AP) — Canada's National Energy Board approved Thursday a plan by Enbridge to reverse the flow of a pipeline that would allow for Western Canadian oil to be transported to Eastern Canada.
The board's decision allows Enbridge to move 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Sarnia, Ontario, to Montreal.
Line 9 originally shuttled oil from Sarnia to Montreal, but was reversed in the late '90s in response to market conditions to pump imported crude westward. Enbridge now wants to flow oil back eastwards to service refineries in Ontario and Quebec.
The capacity of the line will also increase to 300,000 barrels a day from 240,000 barrels.
"The board's decision enables Enbridge to react to market forces and provide benefits to Canadians, while at the same time implementing the project in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner," the NEB said in a statement.
Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver applauded the decision because it will allow Western Canadian crude to flow east to two refineries in Quebec. "This will protect high-quality, skilled jobs in Quebec and create market opportunities for Western Canada's oil producers," Oliver said in a statement.
Opponents argued the plan — which involves transporting a heavier form of crude — puts communities at risk, threatens water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas. They pointed to an Enbridge spill in Michigan, which leaked 20,000 barrels of crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.