Fact Sheet: Implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012: National Energy Board Audit Completed by the Office of the Auditor General

Background Information on the Audit

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) group within the Office of the Auditor General  (OAG) carried out an audit of the National Energy Board’s (NEB or Board) implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). The audit looked at practices in place from July 2012 to July 2014. The final version of the report is included in the Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development that was tabled with Parliament on 7 October 2014.

The NEB’s implementation of CEAA 2012

The Board welcomes the opportunity for feedback as part of our commitment to continual improvement. The Board is pleased with the OAG’s overall conclusion that the NEB has successfully implemented the requirements of CEAA 2012. We are dedicated to providing meaningful participation for Canadians. Some of our most recent achievements include:

  • The NEB’s Enhanced Aboriginal Engagement program, which reaches 100’s of Aboriginal groups every year.
  • Making over $3.45 Million available in 2014 alone to support meaningful participation in hearings through our Participant Funding Program.
  • Easy access to one-on-one support and information sessions through our Process Advisors.

The NEB values public participation. It is an important part of our hearing process. The OAG has pointed out areas we can improve, we welcome those comments, and we want the public to know we are acting on it.

We have plans for further improvement, which is a strong value at the NEB. The Board will continue work on the areas for improvement identified in the OAG report. The NEB has developed and is already implementing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to address the recommendations.

Summary of OAG Recommendations

Based on the findings of the report, the OAG Audit had four recommendations. The NEB should establish and implement a clear action plan that sets out specific corrective actions that will be taken. In particular, the NEB’s action plan should include:

  • Updating guidance on the public participation framework to ensure consistency with CEAA 2012;
  • Developing guidance on public participation for projects designated under the CEAA 2012 that are also regulated under the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act (COGOA);
  • Assessing whether our public and Aboriginal participation processes and timeframes provide Aboriginal groups and the public with an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way; and
  • Further developing and updating our cumulative effects guidance for projects regulated under COGOA and designated under CEAA 2012.

NEB’s Corrective Action Plan (CAP)

The NEB supports continual improvement and has established a corrective action plan that sets out the actions that will be taken to address the OAG recommendations. 

In order to improve understanding and transparency, the NEB is revising two of its guidance documents, “Participation in a Facilities Hearing” and “Participation in other Hearings”. These documents are being updated to reference the standing test on CEAA 2012, and to include factors that may be considered when making “level of participation” decisions. The NEB will complete an assessment of its processes for opportunities for meaningful participation by Aboriginal groups and the public. In 2015, any reasonable measures to improve the ability of the public and Aboriginal groups to participate will have been identified.

For CEAA 2012 designated projects regulated under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, the NEB is revising its guidance on public participation as well as cumulative effects assessment.

All work is expected to be completed in 2015.

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