Board Hearing Process Provides Opportunity for Meaningful Participation
For immediate release
April 01 2015
Board Hearing Process Provides opportunity for Meaningful Participation
CALGARY - The National Energy Board (NEB or the Board) today responded to the declaration issued by several BC Mayors on 31 March regarding the NEB’s review of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (the Project).
We are committed to a thorough and fair environmental assessment and regulatory review of the Project. Our processes are fair and guided by legislation, including the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act). We are also bound by the rules of natural justice, and our decisions are subject to review by the Federal Court of Appeal. In addition, Board members and Staff are bound by a code of conduct that prohibits any ownership or other interests in companies or industries regulated by the Board.
We consider public involvement to be a fundamental component throughout the lifecycle of a project - from project design to abandonment - in order to address the potential impacts of that project.
The Board will hear from those who are directly affected by the Project and from those who have expertise to share. There are approximately 400 intervenors and 1,300 commenters in this hearing. That is the most participants in the history of NEB hearings.
Our hearing processes are designed to be flexible to meet the needs of the wide range of applications we receive. Based on the circumstances of each hearing, the Board must decide how to best gather the information it needs to make a decision in the Canadian public interest.
The Board chose to test the evidence using a written format for questioning so that all intervenors have an opportunity to participate meaningfully. In our experience, written responses to questions about highly technical matters can be an appropriate way to test the evidence.
In the first round of information requests, approximately 10,000 questions were asked by 122 intervenors, and responded to by Trans Mountain. Of these, 50 intervenors requested better responses for roughly 2,000 answers because they said they were not satisfied with the responses they received. In some cases, we agreed that Trans Mountain could have done a better job of answering and we directed them to do so. For those where a further answer was not required, the Board provided detailed reasons for its decision. Rest assured, the Board puts its mind to each and every question before it makes a decision.
The Board has determined that this hearing is fair to all participants and meets the requirements of natural justice. The hearing includes an opportunity to file evidence, two opportunities to ask Trans Mountain written questions, opportunities for Aboriginal communities to provide oral Aboriginal traditional evidence, and the option of both written argument and oral summary argument. On numerous occasions, at the request of intervenors or on its own motion, the Board has shown flexibility in moving deadlines and adding further opportunities to test evidence filed by Trans Mountain.
The review of this application will be no less rigorous compared to past reviews. This application will be subject to full review pursuant to the requirements of the NEB Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada's energy industry with the safety of Canadians and protection of the environment as its top priority. Its purpose is to regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest. For more information on the NEB and its mandate, please visit the National Energy Board website.
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