Risks to landowners

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The pipeline is proposed to cross 282.5 kilometres of private land in New Brunswick. In the case of a pipeline development, private landowners have very few protections and little ability to deter a company from their property. Local experience has shown that, even in the early stages of land surveying, we hear stories of landowners feeling intimidated and pressured and left to negotiate access on their own, with pipeline companies often using a “divide and conquer” approach that isolates landowners from one another. Once a pipeline is approved, landowners are typically left with restricted access on their own land and liabilities for environmental clean-ups and aging infrastructure after abandonment. In most cases,  the  pipeline  operator  does  not  own  the  product  in  the  pipe;  the operator simply  gets  paid  to  move  the  product  from  one  place  to  another, leaving landowners with questions over insurance, responsibility, and liability in case of an incident, because their name is on the title of the land.

The Conservation Council and other groups, such as the National Farmers Union-NB chapter, are concerned the Energy East Pipeline project will threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers and agricultural workers in New Brunswick.

Property owners alone the route could also see their property values lowered as a result of the pipeline’s construction.

Other things to consider:

  • New National Energy Board regulations passed in 2012 shifted the burden of constructing, operating and maintaining safe pipelines to farmers, who will face fines and potential Criminal Code prosecutions for failing to warn the company when pipelines cannot safely accommodate farming practices.

  • TransCanada says it will bury pipes 3-4 feet below ground in agricultural land. The New Brunswick chapter of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Association says pipelines should be buried at least five feet below ground over farmland, and six feet below ground for woodlots, to avoid disruption from equipment and regular land use.

  • The NEB Act Section 112 (2) states you must have the permission of the company to cross the pipeline ROW (right-of-way, meaning the strip of land housing the pipeline) with mobile equipment and you have restrictions as to the depth you can dig on the control zone. You can now be fined and criminalized under new laws created in the June 2012 Omnibus bill if you fail to ask permission. Rather than make pipelines as safe as they possibly can be, there is now a trend toward keeping people as far away as possible – even if it is farmers or ranchers on their own land. This also means if the landowner/farmer doesn’t have permission and they cross the pipeline and something bad happens, you’ll get hit with the bill.

  • For more information, check out this great resource from the New Brunswick chapter of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipelines Landowners Association.