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Keep Them In The Dark: TransCanada fails to inform residents who signed up for notices.

This is an open letter to the National Energy Board to ask to extend their 30-day application period for the proposed Energy East project by another 30 days.

Troubling information has been brought forward by a growing number of residents of Red Head, New Brunswick. This small community of approximately 500 residents is just east of Saint John and situated right beside the Bay of Fundy. Red Head is the final destination for the 4400-km export pipeline from Alberta tar sands, where it will be delivered to a proposed 18-tank storage facility (“tank farm”), and a marine terminal for oil supertankers.

Going door-to-door in Red Head, I asked residents if they knew about the National Energy Board’s 30-day application process for the proposed Energy East project. None of the residents I spoke with knew that the NEB application process had started, and that the deadline to apply, March 3rd, was fast approaching.

Anyone who wants to speak at an Energy East hearing of the National Energy Board, or just write a Letter of Comment, must apply to do so.

Imagine my surprise to learn that three of these Red Head residents told me that they had filled out a sign-up sheet at the TransCanada Open House held in Saint John on October 30, 2014, a sheet which TransCanada promised they would use to contact the residents in the future about the NEB application process. But it is apparent that TransCanada failed to inform these residents who actually signed up for notices!  (Ironically, this is the same day that TransCanada filed its pipeline application to the NEB.)

Red Head resident Leanne Sutton was disappointed that she was never contacted by TransCanada about the start of the NEB application process. “I left them my e-mail address, civic address, as well as a daytime contact number and nothing. And she added, “How many others where just not contacted even though the interest was shown?”

Red Head resident Gary Prosser also clearly remembers putting his name and contact information on the TransCanada sheet at the Saint John Open House to keep him informed about the upcoming NEB application process. He confirmed that TransCanada has never contacted him to let him know about the start of the NEB 30-day application process, “There’s been no contact. There’s been no disclosure.”

And even though Gary lives directly across the road where the 18-tank storage facility is proposed to be built in Red Head, TransCanada representatives have never disclosed the actual location of the tanks and how close they will be to his property. “I have only been shown a picture of the footprint of the tanks. How can you oppose something if you don’t know the plan? If there is no disclosure, how can I comment on it? If you don’t know the questions, you don’t know the answers.” says Mr. Prosser. “There has been no disclosure. Nothing.”

It would appear that TransCanada wants to keep Red Head residents in the dark. Any reasonable person would conclude that TransCanada does not want to properly inform residents about the NEB process. This only compounds the earlier actions by TransCanada that excludes Red Head residents who are concerned about the Energy East pipeline.

And in a fateful co-incidence last week, TransCanada’s Patrick Lacroix, NB Project Manager for Energy East, wrote a letter to the City of Fredericton in which they refused to give a public meeting to the citizens of Fredericton. As outlined in this article, this rejection was in response to the letter sent by Fredericton City Council which asked TransCanada to hold a public meeting in Fredericton for their citizens.

As a body assigned to review the safety and feasibility of this project, I would like to stress to the National Energy Board that TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline route north of Stanley would cross over 3 tributaries of the Nashwaak River – Arnold Brook, Cross Creek, McGivney Brook – and that at the mouth of the Nashwaak River is the location of a major window into the aquifer for the City of Fredericton’s drinking water supply.

These tributaries, and the more than 280 other water crossings of the 42-inch diameter Energy East pipeline in New Brunswick, are featured in this interactive map created by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. The National Energy Board has a duty of care to ask TransCanada to hold a meeting for the residents of Fredericton and address their concerns in an open and transparent manner.

The process is broken. I respectfully ask your agency to extend the 30-day application process by another 30 days, to April 3rd.

And would your agency ask TransCanada to release to the public a record of all written public consultation activities at their Open Houses here in New Brunswick. This information should be made public – with the names and contact information of residents blacked out for privacy – based on the alleged irregularities described above.

Please note that since TransCanada refuses to keep residents properly informed about the Energy East project, the Council of Canadians will make a commitment to residents of Red Head to hold a weekly meeting for the next several months. ‘Kitchen table meetings’ in Red Head and other communities in New Brunswick will become the hallmark of the growing opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline. #NoEnergyEast