Canadian energy company buys town’s silence over proposed tar sands pipeline
A small town in Canada has agreed to withhold comment on a proposed pipeline project in return for just enough money to buy the town a rescue truck, Think Progress is reporting.
In return for $28,200, officials from the town of Mattawa in Ontario will not have any comment on the Energy East tar sands pipeline project proposed by energy giant TransCanada Corp.
According to the terms of the deal, Mattawa will “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” for five years.
The town has indicated that money would go towards the purchase of an emergency vehicle.
The Energy East pipeline is the most expensive pipeline project TransCanada has ever proposed; larger than the proposed Keystone XL project.
Should it be approved, Energy East would transport about 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude, compared to the controversial Keystone project which would carry 830,000 barrels per day from Canada down to refineries in Texas.
Andrea Harden-Donahue, an advocate on energy and climate issues with the Council of Canadians, called the agreement a “gag order.”
“This is a gag order,” she told Bloomberg News. “These sorts of dirty tricks impede public debate on Energy East, a pipeline that comes with significant risks for communities along the route.”
TransCanada representatives insist that the agreement with Mattawa is aboveboard and is not intended to chill debate.
“The language in the agreement was designed to prevent municipalities from feeling obligated to make public comments on our behalf about projects that did not impact them and about which they had no experience or knowledge,” TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata said. “We are looking at amending our contract language to ensure communities know they and their staff retain the full right to participate in an open and free dialogue about our projects.”
Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer has called the assertion that town has agreed to a gag order with TransCanada Pipelines a “huge misunderstanding”.
“There is definitely no gag order. It’s totally out of context,” Backer told BayToday.
Backer added “We will be at the energy hearings. We have a million questions we want to ask.”
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