Red Head, New Brunswick is ground zero for the proposed Energy East pipeline. This community lies just east of Saint John and boasts a series of beautiful, scallop-shaped coves along the Bay of Fundy. This pristine backdrop 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.
But Red Head residents have been left in the dark, unable to get TransCanada to hold a public meeting to answer their growing list of questions and concerns about the project. Instead, TransCanada's representatives will only meet with residents one-on-one in their homes.
So last Saturday, the Council of Canadians – Saint John chapter organized a public meeting at the Saint John Regional Library for Red Head residents and other affected communities nearby. Short videos and information were presented about the risks of the Energy East project to our health, our waterways, and our climate.
Scott Kidd was the featured guest, a member of the Board of Directors of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. He encouraged all residents to apply to participate in the National Energy Board (NEB) process reviewing the Energy East project. Scott stressed, "Even if you just want to write a simple Letter of Comment you have to apply to do so". The deadline for the online application is March 3, 2015.
Scott took the landowners and the other affected residents through the 10-20 minute process to fill in the National Energy Board application. This step-by-step guide by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick has suggested talking points for residents that have a pipeline crossing their property, or who live downwind/downstream from the pipeline.
The Council of Canadians also have a step-by-step guide with suggested talking points for anyone who would like to list climate change as one of the reasons for participation.
During the presentation, the citizens in the audience were quick to give reasons for why they would be directly affected by the pipeline:
- living in a community near the pipeline
- living downstream from a water crossing of the pipeline
- environmental costs of climate change due to expanded Alberta tar sands
- economic costs of climate change if we don't transition off fossil fuels
The economic costs of climate change is echoed by the recent open letter in The Guardian by Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party in Britain. "Climate change has never been just an environmental issue. It affects the economy, migration and living standards too. There is no trade-off between tackling climate change and building an economy in which working families succeed. Indeed, success on one will help us achieve the other."
After the meeting, Red Head resident Joe Mahabee spoke about how the beauty and safety of his ocean-side property is threatened by the proposed storage tank farm directly behind it. Joe explained that the safety issue is very important to him, "The tank farm will be 70 metres from our property. I'm uneasy about living below a few million gallons of oil."
In contrast to the public meetings being held by the Council of Canadians to answer questions about the proposed Energy East, TransCanada has launched a new public engagement tactic. TransCanada has selected five (5) residents from Red Head to be part of the 'TransCanada Energy East Liaison Committee'. Meetings are held in private, and any other residents who attempt to watch the meeting have been escorted away from the property.
"Meetings are not involving residents," explains Red Head resident Leanne Sutton. "These meetings are not resident-friendly at all. I would like to see it more open to the residents and landowners so we can present our own concerns, or our concerns on behalf of the seals out back in the cove."
The process is broken. The growing mistrust in the process is only growing the opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline. #NoEnergyEast