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“It is vital that the government take the required steps to restore public trust in the NEB,” says C.D. Howe Institute report.

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World Pipelines,

The C.D. Howe Institute has released a new report, named ‘How to Restore Public Trust and Credibility at the National Energy Board’. This report suggests that the government of Canada should restore the independence of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) decision making authority for pipeline applications in order to make the Board as a credible, effective and efficient energy regulator.

“Given that the expert panel just delivered a report yesterday on reforming the NEB to Jim Carr, the Minister of Natural Resources, we are at a critical juncture,” stated Lesley Matthews, the author of the report. “It is vital that the government take the required steps to restore public trust in the NEB.”

The report assesses whether the NEB is ‘broken’ by evaluating its performance against six recognised attributes of an effective and efficient regulator, including: independence; conflict of interest protection; transparent and inclusive processes; performance management and adaptability; capacity; and enabling factors.

From this analysis, the author makes 23 recommendations that are intended to assist the NEB in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of energy regulation in Canada. Key recommendations include:

  • The government should restore the independence of the NEB’s decision making authority for pipeline applications, eliminating political overrides of NEB decisions except via courts.
  • To keep the review process timely, review participants should be limited to those directly affected or have relevant expertise relating to the project under review.
  • However, the government should rescind the one-size-fits-all time limit requirements on NEB reviews and instead require each panel to determine the timeline for each review.
  • Outside of the formal hearing process, the NEB should implement a mechanism for ongoing public engagement, with an initial focus on local and Aboriginal communities affected by NEB-regulated facilities, on the range of issues under its mandate.
  • To reduce the perception of a conflict of interest, the NEB should review its staff Code of Conduct to ensure it covers all situations potentially creating a conflict of interest.
  • Ottawa should also make sure that the NEB has the capacity to attract the best candidates for its needs and that it transparently evaluates its overarching regulatory goals.
  • In partnership with the provinces and territories, the federal government should develop an integrated energy strategy reflecting the public interest of Canada, within which the NEB’s work would be framed.

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