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An open letter to the National Energy Board

Mr. Michel Mantha

Subject: GH - 1 - 97 Hearing: proposed acquisition of lands and right of entry application by TQM; the role of the NEB.

In December, 1997, during the NEB proceedings in Magog, Quebec, we, as full interveners wrote you a letter asking for certain clarifications about pipeline-applicant conduct. It dealt with and detailed TQM's preparation sloppiness on some issues, many of them crucial, and the general misinformation practices the company employs. We respectfully suggested that you might consider imposing fines on applicants who flagrantly mislead the participants in the process and cost valuable time and money to everyone. You never answered the letter, Mr. Mantha and to this day TQM continues to get away with much of what the NEB heard about at the Magog meetings, but chose to ignore in its report. Despite all the unenforceable, mitigative measures you put into your Comprehensive Study Report (in name only), TQM has continued to abuse its authority and big-money power. As private, self-employed citizens in various pursuits, retirees and property owners directly affected by the proposed new route alongside two existing servitudes (one hydro; one gas), we are at a loss to understand the NEB's complicity. It is especially distressing when you warn us not to be frivolous or vexatious in contacting you, when, in fact it is TQM who is acting in this manner. The NEB simply doesn't appear to be acting at all, as Union Gas stated in its recent filing.

As you should know by now, our landowners' coalition appeal before Quebec's agricultural land protection commission (the chairman was conflicted out because he is the brother of TQM's VP for public relations) has yet to be decided on. As you should also know, the tactics of landowner intimidation to sign also go on daily. Last evening a family of seniors on our road called to ask if we could remain friends even though they now felt forced to sign. It was described as a last offer before they might have to face legal costs if the project were to be held back. The list of examples of this type of corporate tyranny are too numerous to mention.

The NEB has a moral responsibility to all Canadians and especially landowners in this era of energy deregulation and the arrival of new sources of energy, to protect our environment and heritage. All this sanctimonious bilge we hear about the work of the NEB, the CEAA, Fisheries and Oceans and our august federal cabinet are just smokescreens because you have neither a policy for emerging realities, nor a courageous, visionary way to deal with them. The economic aspect of the PNGTS project which you so willingly embraced is so unsubstantiated, that your organization itself should be questioned. Was it the consolation prize to TQM because they didn't become a player in the Sable Gas sweepstakes? Now that there is an abundance of eastern natural gas sources, why are you allowing pipelines to criss-cross the country? The fact is that the NEB is part of the energy lobby of western gas interests and Canadians are paying the price for the whole dismal process.

The evaluation phase for this project, for example, which we landowners estimate to have already cost the taxpayer over $1 million: the NEB hearing: $850.000; the BAPE process $265,000; and the CPTAQ (so far) $105,000, is the tip of the iceberg. It does not include all the costs incurred by the landowners and all the harassment they have lived through while preparing their material for various hearings and other information matters.

It is one thing for all you energy groupies to look at us as hindrances to your big buck-big project visions, but you are abusing tax dollars, citizens-and landscapes in the process. Please find enclosed copies of the bailiff-delivered, mildly-veiled expropriation notices which most of us received over the last two weeks. For the record we haven't heard from a TQM negotiator in the last few months. The last time we did he had flipped-flopped on the precise route. Some of our neighbors (in one case a person who has been entirely bought out and now he wants to return to Europe) who have willingly or less willingly signed on, are now, like some new members of the town council, strongly advocating the virtues of the pipeline and lecturing us to sign on, without a shred of evidence of why we should do so.

Whatever the result of this fiasco, and time doesn't allow me to go into what the BAPE Report said about avoiding South Stukelyand East Hereford, we are now almost forced, in the future to watchdog the NEB and the way it carries out its mandate to the detriment of private and public lands for self-serving lobbies with questionable national-interest objectives. Because absolutely no one has seriously and thoroughly looked at the overall "big" picture concerning this project, no part of the processes or the results emerge unscathed.

At this very moment, May 29,1998, in the worst drought conditions we have experienced in recent years, TQM is thumbing its nose at the NEB, the landowners and the whole process itself by starting this unapproved project in various locations in a flagrant exhibition of crassness and corporate defiance. Where are you mitigative measures now Mr. Mantha?

Gary Richards

South Stukely

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