It was a stunning public relations blunder by the NEB. On the very first day of the Energy East review process, instead of welcoming and accepting comments and concerns from a 1000+ fishermen association in Nova Scotia, the three NEB Board members took only two (2) minutes before deciding to strike down their remarks from the hearing record.
The NEB Board members did not make this decision on their own. They were instructed to consider taking this position by one of the lawyers for TransCanada seated at the head tables of the room.
Fortunately, I captured this remarkable exchange on video while attending the NEB panel session in Saint John on August 8, 2016. The words from the lawyer for TransCanada, Mr. Kemm Yates, sounded more like a directive to the NEB rather than an legal objection for their consideration:
(13:02) Mr. Kemm Yates, lawyer for TransCanada Pipelines Limited and Energy East Pipeline Ltd. (from law firm Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Calgary, Alberta). “I would take the position that the Panel will not respond to the question about the Panel Session in Nova Scotia for the reasons articulated by Mr. Watton. Secondly, the jurisdictional question is a question of law and the Panel will not be responding to that either.” “…..Mr. Chairman I submit that all of this submission on behalf of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association cannot form part of the record since they are not an Intervenor and they are not entitled to make a presentation here, leaving aside entirely the question of whether the Ecology Action Centre would have any entitlement to make a submission on behalf of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishery Association.”
The NEB panel members quickly huddled together to discuss their response. After only two minutes, they turned on their microphone to deny the Nova Scotia fishery association’s comments and concerns:
(15:15) NEB Panel members. “Any submission by the Ecology Action Centre here will be considered but we cannot accept without – there are many other ways of doing it – but that fishery organization that you are talking about is not an Intervenor, and this is a process for Intervenors. So we will have to agree with TransCanada Council that this cannot stand here.”
The above denial is proof that the restrictive limitations on public participation imposed on the NEB Hearing process in 2012 are still in place. The Harper Government included these changes in the omnibus budget Bill C-38.
It is worth noting that the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association, the largest fishers’ association in Nova Scotia, have never been consulted by TransCanada on this proposed project or associated tanker traffic through the Bay of Fundy.
The NEB review process is a sham. Open, fair public hearings on Energy East are required. Anyone wishing to make a presentation should be able to appear before the NEB Review Board. Without this opportunity to give oral arguments to the NEB Review Board, the NEB will only generate more opposition against Energy East as they continue their hearings across Canada.
YOUTUBE OF PRESS CONFERENCE: At a Press Conference earlier in the morning of August 8, 2016, Colin Sproul outlined the reasons why their fishermen feel a tar sands bitumen spill in the Bay of Fundy would devastate their $2 Billion industry. “The fastest tides in the world mean the fastest spreading oil in the world, with no means to mitigate it or stop it in a quick fashion.”
MEDIA RELEASE FOR PRESS CONFERENCE: (Council of Canadians, 2016. “Risk of Energy East to Water and Atlantic Coast Too Great Groups Tell NEB on First Day of Hearings in Saint John”. August 8.)
SUMMARY OF CONCERNS BY THE BAY OF FUNDY INSHORE FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATION
The Bay of Fundy is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world; a bitumen spill in the Bay of Fundy could end their multi-billion dollar fishery industry which significantly contributes to the food security of Canada; further industrialization with tanker traffic will increase uncompensated fishing gear loss and threaten the critically-endangered North Atlantic Right Whale; the extreme tides of the Bay of Fundy is an unsafe place to navigate Post-Panamex supertankers; question how a bitumen spill could ever be cleaned up from the seafloor or the surface of the sea of the Bay of Fundy; surface oil spills in the Bay of Fundy would spread faster than almost anywhere else in the world and enter it’s critically important estuaries in a very short period of time; flow through a single tide cycle is greater than all of the river systems in the world combined and this would carry any spill with it.