TransCanada’s project description, filed with the National Energy Board (NEB) in March 2014, stated that consultation with landowners had begun and this consultation would serve to introduce the project, identify early routing concerns and recommendations, and notify affected landowners about field surveys.
If you live on or own property near a proposed project, you or a group of property owners can apply as an intervenor in the National Energy Board review process. Intervenors can also apply for funding to help them through this process.
In Manitoba, Energy East would entail the conversion of an existing natural gas pipeline to carry Alberta tar sands crude, or DilBit, to Eastern Canada. A TransCanada employee claimed at an open house in Manitoba that Manitoba landowners have little rights to oppose Energy East because TransCanada’s rights to their lands was established when the original natural gas line was built decades ago.
In Manitoba, easement agreements were established with landowners for the transportation of petroleum products when the natural gas line was constructed. The common practice has been for corporate land agents, such as those of TransCanada, to go to land owners, point to these easement agreements, and pressure landowners to sign deals.
Companies like TransCanada are not answerable to the courts, only the National Energy Board (NEB), which the Canadian Associaton of Energy and Pipeline Landowner’s Associations (CAEPLA) claims has been acting in the interests of the oil and gas industry for decades.
Thus, the only rights Manitoba landowners have are the ones they stand up for. In other places, landowners have mobilized as a group to negotiate fairer deals with the least environmental and financial harm to their property and businesses. CAEPLA mobilizes landowners to collectively organize against oil and gas companies so that their collective interests can be heard.
In cases where new pipeline needs to be constructed, TransCanada should be undertaking a process of negotiation with landowners to sign contracts in which the landowner’s land is leased to TransCanada for the project.
However, according to current NEB regulations on pipelines, if the landowner and TransCanada do not reach an agreement (or if the landowner opposes the project), TransCanada can apply to the NEB in writing asking for a Right of Entry Order (ROE) which would allow TransCanada an immediate right to enter the land to develop the pipeline. While the NEB claims to act in “the public interest”, critics have pointed out that the ROE frequently enables the expropriation of landowners in the interest of private corporations that accountable, first and foremost, to their shareholders.