Can a new pipeline help the climate? ArcelorMittal Dofasco says it needs more gas to outperform coal

New technology at ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton aims to remove 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the local atmosphere each year.  (John Rieti/CBC - photo credit)

New technology at ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton aims to remove 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the local atmosphere each year. (John Rieti/CBC – photo credit)

If Hamilton City Council agrees to build a new natural gas pipeline to ArcelorMittal Dofasco, as a countermeasure it should also commit to reducing gas use and emissions in other parts of the city, says Ian Borsuk, interim managing director of Environment Hamilton.

The comments come after representatives from ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Enbridge Gas recently made a presentation to city councilors in which they said plans to phase out the use of coal in the steelmaking process will require double the amount of natural gas the plant currently uses. They say a new pipeline is needed to make that happen.

“We’re so tied to fossil fuels that many people literally see the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure as an environmental win,” Borsuk told CBC Hamilton. “For myself and many other environmentalists, I see it as extremely devastating to the situation we find ourselves in.”

The new technology at ArcelorMittal Dofasco is expected to remove 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from the local atmosphere annually, along with several other chemicals. Councilors praised this goal, although several noted that it puts them in a position to have to approve new fossil fuel infrastructure that could potentially be used for more than just the steel mill in the future, unintentionally increasing long-term fuel consumption CO2 emissions would result.

The International Energy Agency is among several organizations that have warned governments not to invest in new fossil fuel projects if their intention is to limit warming to safe levels and meet international goals.

Submitted by Environment Hamilton

Submitted by Environment Hamilton

“In many ways the city council’s hands are tied because they don’t want to be seen obstructing this and continuing the use of coal,” Borsuk said.

“In many ways, this type of example is the tragedy of modern society. We know there is an ongoing problem and we have the tools to address it, but economics does not support science, and unfortunately economics trumps science in pretty much every case.

“If this is going to continue, then I believe it is the City of Hamilton’s responsibility to find ways to reduce emissions in other ways and in other sectors.”

The steelworks forecasts annual gas consumption of more than one billion cubic meters

The gas would be used to power the plant’s direct reduced iron plant, which will come online in 2026 and completely replace coal-fired steelmaking by 2028, said Tony Valeri, part of ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s decarbonization investment project team. He told Hamilton City Council’s General Issues Committee meeting on Feb. 1 that the plant’s gas use would increase from about 500 million cubic meters a year to more than a billion.

“The project is a first phase on our journey to net-zero,” he said, noting that the company has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and is exploring numerous other emission-reduction projects, such as: B. bio-carbon from waste wood, and hydrogen, which could eventually replace the plant’s natural gas.

Canadian press

Canadian press

Enbridge’s preferred route for the natural gas pipeline would begin south of Rymal Road near the Upper Centennial Parkway, north of Barton Street and west of Kenilworth Street, where it would discharge onto the steel mill property.

The second choice route would start in Flamborough, down the embankment to York Boulevard and through downtown Hamilton to the plant; The third option would see the pipeline pass through the King’s Forest golf course and a wetland en route to the facility, said Murray Costello, Enbridge Gas’ director of Southeast Region operations.

“There would be part of it [King’s Forest] that would need to be dug up,” he told council members at the meeting.

Taking the company’s preferred route along the Centennial Parkway, the pipeline would be built along city streets, Costello said.

Courtesy City of Hamilton

Courtesy City of Hamilton

Costello shared the following proposed construction schedule with council members:

  • Fall 2023: Ontario Energy Board (OEB) application for the project;

  • Aug 2024: OEB decision projected;

  • Spring 2025: start of construction; And

  • End of 2025: Pipeline in operation.

He also noted that Enbridge is conducting a public consultation on the proposal, which will be part of the OEB filing. Sessions are scheduled for March 2nd at the Stoney Creek Lions Club from 5pm to 8pm and March 8th at the Mount Hamilton Legion from 5pm to 8pm. Residents can also contribute online by visiting between February 27 and March 12.

“How many households… would have to turn off the gas?”

Dundas Councilor Alex Wilson was among several on the council who have indicated they would like to see more research into the alternatives to a new gas pipeline.

“Why does the increase in demand require an increase in system capacity?” asked Wilson. “For example, I’m trying to understand whether reducing natural gas consumption in other parts of the city has an impact. How many households… would have to turn off the gas?”

Costello said he believed Enbridge’s submission to the OEB would contain those answers. In addition to the OEB permit, the project would also require permits from the City of Hamilton and the Conservation Agency, he said.

Council delegate Don McLean, a member of the Hamilton 350 environmental group, suggested that switching homes from gas furnaces to electric heat pumps could help free up some capacity for the steel project without needing additional capacity.

“I’m worried about this project in general because it makes the crisis worse,” he said. “Most of the natural gas – I would call it fossil gas – used in Ontario is fracked gas. It’s probably as bad as coal for its impact on global climate.”

Borsuk told CBC Hamilton that he had a hard time imagining Enbridge agreeing to a voluntary reduction in gas sales.

“They’re going to want to sell their product for as long as possible,” he said. “That’s just the reality of the situation.”

When contacted for an interview on the matter, Costello responded with the following emailed comments:

“Enbridge Gas is evaluating pipeline alternatives through our Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) framework (approved by our regulator, the Ontario Energy Board). This process takes into account safety, schedules, custom build and cost.

“However, the natural gas volume and production pressure required for this project indicate that a complete non-pipeline alternative cannot meet the requirements of the project, which is a custom design.”


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