Don’t let the Energy East project cost the taxpayers of Saint John, cautions Red Head community group to Saint John Common Council

RedHeadSAINT JOHN – A community group of Red Head residents will make a presentation entitled ‘How much will the taxpayers of Saint John pay for Energy East?’ to Saint John Common Council this Monday night, June 27th @ 6:00pm.   The Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association share the same concern with Saint John Common Council that there is a long list of unanswered questions from TransCanada about the risks and liabilities of the proposed Energy East project.   The community group will ask Council to forward their questions to the City’s NEB Working Group who can add them to their ongoing Informal Information Requests (IRs) and future Formal IRs to TransCanada.

“If there was a spill or explosion, everyone in the city would be affected,“ says Lynaya Astephen, spokesperson for Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association.  “We will all pay if the City of Saint John does not get assurances that all the proper liability insurance, bonds, and written agreements will be in place.  We are asking that Saint John Common Council provide assurances that the taxpayers will not bear any costs of the construction, operation, spills, explosions, or fire of the proposed Energy East project.”

“The complex structure of shell companies for this project is a big red flag,” says Lynaya Astephen. “Why will the pipeline, tank farm, and marine terminal be built by money provided by TransCanada PipeLines Limited and Irving Oil Company Limited but they will be owned by different companies, both of which are limited partnership companies? (1)  Will Saint John Common Council request this information so that this limited liability structure can be explained to the taxpayers of Saint John?”

“Municipal governments have a fiduciary duty to make sure companies operating in their jurisdiction carry unlimited liability guarantees,” says Teresa Debly, a member of the Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association.  “Right now there is too much uncertainly over the risks and the financial liability, so we don’t feel safe. Is this the reason why over 340 municipalities in Quebec made the decision to officially oppose the proposed Energy East project?”

“Their concern about the financial liability is justified.  A tar sands bitumen spill is very difficult and expensive to clean up,” says Mark D’Arcy, NB Energy East campaigner for the Council of Canadians.  “The Energy East will also carry some conventional oil, but it is primarily an export tar sands pipeline.  The Mayor of Edmundston, Cyrille Simard, and the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, have publicly stated that the cost of a major spill in their watersheds could reach several billion and ten billion, respectively.   Unfortunately, under the amended Pipeline Safety Act which came into force on June 19th, the pipeline company is only liable for costs and damages of a spill up to $1 billion.”

“Our confidence in both TransCanada and the National Energy Board is tenuous,” says Mark D’Arcy. “Of the 99 questions requested by the City’s NEB Working Group,  TransCanada failed to answer, or provided incomplete answers, for 64 of them. (2)  And the Federal Government Audit released in January 2016 found that the National Energy Board was failing at their critical role as regulator of pipeline companies. (3)

“Why couldn’t TransCanada propose something cleaner?” adds Teresa Debly. “TransCanada has invested over $5 billion in solar, wind and hydro projects so why can’t they do these projects right now in our province? Our upcoming provincial carbon tax could be used to have companies like TransCanada build publicly-owned systems.  We eliminate the risks with clean energy, and as the saying goes, ‘Whenever there is a huge spill of solar energy, it’s just called a nice day.”


(1) “Energy East Pipeline Limited Partnership will own all the facilities comprising the Project except for the Canaport Energy East marine terminal, which will be owned by Canaport Energy East Marine Terminal Limited Partnership.” “Energy East Pipeline Ltd. is the applicant and will hold the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) in respect of the entire Project, including the Canaport Energy East marine terminal.”

Energy East Pipeline Ltd., 2016.  Consolidated Application. Volume 3: Commercial. 4.0 FINANCING, May, 4p.  Retrieved at https://docs.neb-one.gc.ca/ll-eng/llisapi.dll/fetch/2000/90464/90552/2432218/2540913/2543426/2995824/2957699/A76908%2D5_V3_Sec4_Financing_%2D_A5A0J7.pdf?nodeid=2957264&vernum=1

 

(2)  City of Saint John, 2016.  Attachment D:  Summary of TransCanada’s Responses to the City of Saint John’s Informal Information Requests (IRs).  City of Saint John Informal Information Request No. 1.  Included in Saint John Common Council Agenda Packet, April 18, p. 336-443.  Retrieved at http://documents.saintjohn.ca/weblink/0/edoc/77299/2016-04-18_Agenda%20Packet–Dossier%20de%20lordre%20du%20jour.pdf

(3)  Office of the Auditor General of Canada, 2016. Report 2—Oversight of Federally Regulated Pipelines. 2015 Fall Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. January, 35p. Retrieved at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201601_02_e_41021.html


 

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