Maya Wengar supports the construction of a pipeline to transport oil from Alberta to market. But as a farmer, she wants the relationship between the National Energy Board (NEB) and landowners to change. In an interview with Checkup guest host Duncan McCue, Wengar expressed that there are far too few lobbyists who work on behalf of landowners.
Listen to her interview here.
Maya Wengar: The railway system is not a safe place to have more oil moving in any way. It has been overtaxed and needs some major infrastructure upgrades. So, the oil pipeline really would be the safest way to move it.
My concern is that the NEB has a lot of rules that are very unfair against landowners. If we have this pipeline go through, the people of Canada should put pressure on the federal government to have the National Energy Board change those rules so that the landowner is a respected person and have pipelines that are actually buried deep enough.
Duncan McCue: How is the NEB unfair to landowners?
MW: As a land owner with pipelines going through our land, we have had meetings with them and we have said, "Please, bury these lines deep enough." They tell us farmers that we need special permission to go over the pipeline with our equipment because if there's too much pressure on it, the line might blow somewhere. So our point is that they should bury it deep enough so that we can use our land.
They don't want to bury it a foot or two deeper, they just want to make it as cheap as possible. We found out one day that we're not allowed to build over the pipeline. They never wrote us a letter, they just made a new rule.
DM: What's being piped in your area?
MW: In our case, some is natural gas or oil, I'm not even not completely sure anymore. But we have three different lines running on the same right-of-way. There are many right-of-way issues, in that farmers are having a really hard time getting heard in Ottawa and with the NEB.
DM: You talked about wanting to make a change with the NEB—what would you like to see?
MW: For example, the National Energy Board has hundreds of people working for them in their Calgary head office and not one person works on behalf of the landowner. That's how one sided this issue is. There's one person in Ottawa who lobbies for the landowner and that is Dave Core. There's over 600 of these lobbyists from the different oil companies and with that, it is really hard for the landowner to get heard.
Maya Wengar's and Duncan McCue's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ayesha Barmania.