The new Canadian Energy Regulator

On June 21, Parliament passed Bill C-69, which replaces the National Energy Board Act with the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) Act. While the CER Act introduces some changes, it also incorporates many best practices the NEB was already following.

Key themes include:

Until the new CER Act comes into force (date to be determined), we will continue to be the NEB and carry out our mandate under the NEB Act. We are well positioned to implement the new legislation and ensure a smooth transition to the CER.

A modern governance structure

The CER Act introduces a modern governance structure with clear separation between key functions.

Highlights:

  • An independent Commission, headed by a Lead Commissioner, to adjudicate projects (i.e. hearings)
  • A Board of Directors, led by a Chair, to provide strategic oversight
  • A Chief Executive Officer, accountable for leading the organization and delivering results

Timely and predictable decisions

Bill C-69, including the CER Act, introduces a number of changes to federal processes for project review and decisions.

Highlights:

  • Small projects (“non-designated projects”) include pipeline projects of less than 40 km. They will be reviewed by the CER and go through a full impact assessment within 10 months.
  • Medium projects (“non-designated projects”) include pipelines projects of more than 40 km, but with less than 75 km of new right-of-way. They will be reviewed by the CER, and go through a full impact assessment within 15 months, and must be approved by Cabinet.
  • Large projects (“designated projects”) will go through an integrated review process led by the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) with the support of the CER, and are approved by Cabinet.  Large projects include pipeline projects with more than 75 km of new right-of-way. These thresholds are set in the CER Act and the Project List regulations.
  • Most administrative and technical decisions can be made by CER expert staff, called Designated Officer, using a streamlined process

Other changes to project reviews include:

  • A more robust early engagement phase, to better identify and respond to project-related concerns of Indigenous peoples and stakeholders
  • New or updated factors to be considered in impact assessments, including consideration of gender-based analysis, climate change and impacts to Indigenous rights

Strengthened safety and environmental protection

The CER will continue to enforce conditions, inspect facilities and conduct other oversight activities to protect people and the environment. The CER Act strengthens the work of the NEB in this area. 

Highlights:

  • Enhancement to inspection and investigation powers
  • Authority to create an orphan pipeline account and take action to safely cease operation of a pipeline if the owner cannot be located or is in receivership, insolvent, or bankrupt

The CER will also be the lifecycle regulator for offshore renewable energy projects.

Greater Indigenous participation

The CER Act will ensure greater Indigenous participation.

Highlights:

  • Recognition of Indigenous rights and confirmation of the Government’s duty to consult, including a requirement to assess impacts on these rights and consider Indigenous knowledge in decision making
  • Legislated requirement that at least one member of the Board of Directors and one Commissioner be Indigenous
  • Creation of an Indigenous Advisory Committee, with membership representing First Nations, Inuit, and Metis interests, to enhance Indigenous involvement in energy projects

More inclusive public participation

The CER mandate will emphasize inclusive public participation and transparency.  

Highlights:

  • Any member of the public will have an opportunity to express their views during a hearing
  • Expansion of the public participation funding program to cover any steps leading up to hearings (i.e. early engagement)

Next Steps

Between now and when the new legislation comes into force, the NEB will continue to engage with Indigenous peoples, industry and stakeholders to prepare for the transition.

Upcoming consultation includes a 30-day comment period for interim guidance on new and updated factors to consider in project applications as well as early engagement.

See the Government of Canada website for details about past and current consultations and discussion papers related to Bill C-69.

Contact

For more information, please email ModQuestions@neb-one.gc.ca.

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