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Protecting Canadians and the Environment:
Overview of the National Energy Board’s Mandate and Regulatory Framework

Protecting Canadians
and the Environment


The National Energy Board Mandate

The NEB’s Regulatory Framework

Monitoring and Enforcing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection


The National Energy Board (NEB) promotes safety and security, environmental protection and efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest. It does this within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade. Information about the NEB is available from a number of sources, including the NEB’s reports to Parliament, other publications, the NEB website and on request from the NEB library. As part of its Action Plan on Safety and Environmental Protection, the NEB is committed to providing Canadians with additional information about the NEB and its management and protection programs.

The mandate of the NEB is defined by federal legislation. The regulatory framework flows out of that legislation and has resulted in the creation of regulation and guidance regarding a number of issues which are the foundation for compliance monitoring, enforcement tools, performance measurement and public awareness initiatives. This document provides an overview of both the NEB’s mandate and its regulatory framework.

The National Energy Board Mandate

The NEB carries out its mandate in the public interest. The public interest is inclusive of all Canadians and refers to a balance of environmental, economic and social considerations that changes as society’s values and preferences evolve over time.

Public Interest - Environment, Economy and SocialThe NEB’s mandate is defined by the National Energy Board Act, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Canada Labour Code, Part II.

Under this legislation, the NEB regulates:

  1. the construction and operation of inter-provincial and international oil and gas pipelines, international power lines, and designated inter-provincial power lines
  2. tolls and tariffs for the pipelines under its jurisdiction
  3. export of natural gas, oil, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and electricity, and the import of natural gas
  4. oil and gas exploration and development on frontier lands and offshore areas not covered by provincial or federal management agreements

As part of its regulatory role, the NEB conducts environmental assessments, as well as monitors and enforces the Canada Labour Code, Part II on behalf of the federal government.

In its advisory function, the NEB:

  1. studies and keeps under review matters related to its jurisdiction
  2. provides information and advice on aspects of energy supply, transmission and disposition in and outside Canada

The NEB reports to the Parliament of Canada on the effectiveness of its regulatory framework.

Further detailed information on the NEB’s role and mandate can be found in the following information document:

The NEB’s Regulatory Framework

In order to deliver on its mandate, a regulatory framework is in place which consists of the following: setting expectations for industry; monitoring compliance; enforcing rules; measuring performance; and focusing on continual improvement.

Setting Expectations

The NEB sets expectations for industry and others by:

Monitoring Compliance

The NEB monitors compliance with the law through risk-based verification activities as well as investigation of complaints. The following processes are employed:

  • audit
  • inspection
  • investigation
  • compliance meetings
  • regulated company manual and report reviews
  • annual operator safety and environmental reports
  • emergency exercise evaluation
  • emergency procedures manual check
  • response to concerns and complaints

In 2010, the NEB conducted the following compliance verification activities:

Compliance Verification Activity Conducted
Technical Program Audits 10
- Safety 29
- Pipeline Integrity 16
- Environmental 27
- Security 8
Compliance Meetings 82
Emergency Procedures Manual Reviews 27
Post-Construction Environmental Report Reviews 12
Emergency Exercises Evaluations 7
Total 218

Regulated companies are also held accountable for their performance and the effectiveness of their management systems by:


NEB enforcement of rules has an important role to play in bringing regulated companies into compliance, deterring future non-compliance and educating industry and informing the public. Enforcement actions range from requests by the NEB for voluntary improvement to prosecution of violations.

  • The NEB has issued 15 Safety Orders in the last four years. An initiative to begin publishing Safety Orders on the NEB’s website has just recently begun. These recent Safety Orders can be found here.

Measuring Performance of the Regulatory Framework

The NEB also measures the performance of the regulatory framework and reports to Parliament and Canadians through three separate reports:

Continual Improvement

The NEB is committed to continual improvement of the regulatory framework and conducts evaluations as part of an annual strategic planning process to assess risks and trends that might drive the need for regulatory change.

Recent initiatives that demonstrate the NEB’s commitment to continual improvement of the regulatory framework include:

  • Updated Canada Oil and Gas Drilling and Production Regulations to define regulated company requirements for effective management systems and safety and environmental performance outcomes.
  • NEB Order to exempt landowners from having to seek permission to cross over pipelines with agricultural equipment in certain low-risk circumstances (the Order can be found here: MO-21-2010) [Filing A27788]
  • Ongoing work to revise the Pipeline Crossing Regulations, Parts I and II to prevent damage to pipelines by the public.
  • NEB Action Plan on Safety and Environmental Protection 2011-2012 - aimed at improving results in four pillars of safety and environmental protection: Worker Safety; Integrity of Installations; Damage Prevention; and Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Incident Reduction Workshop - involved analysis of and consultation on the underlying causes of recent incident trends on pipelines.
  • Participant Funding Program - established in 2010 to provide financial assistance to support timely and meaningful engagement in the NEB's oral hearing process for facility applications. Funding is available for individuals, Aboriginal groups, landowners, incorporated non-industry not-for-profit organizations, or other interest groups that meet the applicable requirements.
  • Land Matters Consultation Initiative - provided a forum to discuss issues and generate options regarding the rights and interests of those affected by energy infrastructure development.
  • Land Matters Group - a group of individuals from geographic regions and backgrounds across Canada working collaboratively with the NEB to address land matters.
  • Environmental Non-Government Organization (ENGO) Coordinator - established in 2009, the coordinator: shares relevant NEB information with interested ENGOs in a timely manner; acts as a point of contact for ENGOs interested in gathering more information on the Board or its processes; and provides input to the NEB on feedback received from ENGOs.

Further detailed information on the NEB’s regulatory framework can be found in the following information document:

The NEB is in the process of developing a third and final information document entitled "Protecting Canadians and the Environment: How does the National Energy Board Monitor and Enforce Safety, Security and Environmental Protection?" This document will be available in December 2011.

Monitoring and Enforcing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection

The NEB sets goals for industry and monitors compliance in a way that promotes safety, security and environmental protection. The two relevant management and protection goals are:

  1. NEB-regulated facilities and activities are safe and secure.
  2. The environment is protected throughout the lifecycle of NEB-regulated facilities and activities.

Flowing out of these goals are the NEB’s management and protection compliance programs. These compliance programs provide the means to monitor compliance with legislation and enforce compliance when necessary. These programs are:

Under Goal 1: Safety and Security

  • Integrity Compliance Program
  • Emergency Management Compliance Program
  • Worker Safety Compliance Program
  • Damage Prevention Compliance Program
  • Security Compliance Program

Under Goal 2: Environmental Protection Compliance Program

The NEB’s compliance programs involve:

  • a specific purpose and objectives related to its area of management and protection
  • legislation and regulation that define requirements for industry and the public
  • specific processes and procedures for verifying compliance and enforcing non-compliance

Safety and Security

The overarching objective of the NEB’s five Safety Compliance Programs is:

Proactive safety management and a culture of safety are priority values for those we regulate.

The following are the purpose and objectives of the compliance programs:

  1. Integrity Compliance Program

    To promote the prevention of spills and releases through operational excellence and sound engineering (generally referred to as Integrity)

    Prevention of spills and releases and the resulting harm to people and the environment.
  2. Emergency Management Compliance Program

    To promote emergency preparedness and response management

    Systems are in place to minimize risk to people and the environment in the event of an emergency.
  3. Worker Safety Compliance Program

    To promote the protection of workers

    Those we regulate foster a positive safety culture where employees can be instrumental in improving workplace safety and can stop work if they are concerned about safety without fear of reprisal.
  4. Damage Prevention Compliance Program

    To promote safe work practices for those who live and work near pipelines.

    Those we regulate ensure people know how to safely conduct their operations near pipelines.
  5. Security Management Compliance Program

    To promote the prevention of intentional damage to regulated facilities.

    Those we regulate anticipate, prevent, manage and mitigate security-related risks and threats.

Environmental Protection

Environmental Protection Compliance Program

To promote environmental protection during the construction, operation and abandonment of facilities.

Objectives of the program
Environmental protection is an ongoing process where the Board expects that systematic approaches are used to proactively mitigate the risk that environmental effects will exceed approved levels.

The following compliance monitoring activities are conducted through the compliance programs:

  • assess applications for compliance
  • inspect construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment activities
  • audit regulated company management and protection programs
  • evaluate emergency response exercises
  • meet with regulated companies and others to gather or exchange information, screen compliance, assess implementation and provide critical feedback
  • check, review and approve documents
  • investigate incidents and high-risk activities and respond to complaints
  • respond to emergencies

The NEB will enforce non-compliance with requirements as necessary.

Further detailed information on the NEB’s management and protection compliance programs for safety, security and environmental protection can be found in the following information document:


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