One of the Board’s main jobs is conducting reviews of applications for pipelines and electrical power lines. For the most part, the NEB oversees pipelines and power lines that cross between provinces and any that cross into the United States. Our role is to conduct a thorough scientific review and recommend to the Government, if and how a major pipeline project can be done safely and in a way that best protects the environment. Among other things, the Board also regulates economic matters like pipeline tolls (the price charged by a company for transportation and other services) and tariffs (terms and conditions under which service is provided) to make sure they are fair, reasonable and to prevent discrimination.
When conducting project reviews, the NEB functions much like a court. We know that getting involved can feel overwhelming, especially if you have never been involved in an NEB process before. That is why we are working to simplify our hearing and application processes to make them more accessible. This ranges from streamlining the application process for those that want to participate to making it easier to follow up on our decisions.
In 2016-17, the Board oversaw 33 hearings (17 of which were still active as of March 31, 2017) up from 18 the previous year. This included major pipeline project applications such as Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program and Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Now that the initial hearings for these large projects have been completed and have received the go-ahead from the Government of Canada, the NEB will move forward with the next stages of its oversight such as detailed route hearings. When the time comes, we will also make sure the companies follow the all requirements to make sure projects are being constructed safely and with the environment in mind. You can keep track of whether companies have met each condition of their project’s approval on our condition compliance webpage.
View the decisions and recommendations issued by the Board this year.
This year, the Board re-launched its review of the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects. A key feature of the new process is an expanded engagement program that responds to the Government of Canada’s Interim Measures for Pipeline Reviews. In addition to the official hearings, four Board Members are engaging directly with Indigenous Peoples and the public to better understand their concerns and interests. The input gathered during these activities will be placed on the record and considered by the Hearing Panel.
Find out more about the enhanced engagement activities for Energy East and Eastern Mainline.
Imports and Exports
The NEB is responsible for reviewing applications to import and/or export natural gas (including liquefied natural gas) and exports of oil (including refined petroleum products), natural gas liquids (propane, butane and ethane), and electricity. From April 2016 to March 2017, the Board issued 534 import and export decisions. This year’s numbers were similar to numbers from the previous year, when there were 526.
Click to view an overview of all orders, licences, and permits issued by the Board.
For one of its pipeline project applications this year, the NEB piloted an idea called “pre-decided standing”. This means that certain groups including Indigenous peoples, landowners and municipalities were automatically approved to participate in the hearing in the way that best suited them. Once they indicated their desire to participate, NEB advisors were available to help them along the way. This simplified applications process took the guesswork out of whether or not they would be able to participate and allowed people to focus on what they wanted to share with the Panel.
To find out more about how to get involved in an NEB hearing or process, watch this short video.
Money to Participate
In order to help people pay for their participation in NEB hearings, the NEB administers its Participant Funding Program (PFP). The PFP program makes money available for people to recover some of the costs that go along with taking part in a hearing, including things like travel and legal fees. In 2016-17, the NEB managed 281 files for individuals and groups to participate in NEB processes and we paid out almost $800,000 in claims. In order to make it even easier to access PFP, we also improved our online forms that allow people to apply for and claim their funding.
Want to learn more? Visit our PFP page to see if we can help.
The Vaughn Mainline Expansion Project was one of two hearings this year where the Project Panel piloted on-the-record Community Meetings. The Community Meeting was an informal way for the Panel, who would eventually make the final ruling on the project, to hear those who wanted to share their views and knowledge. Participants did not have to have official “intervenor” status. They also were not required to submit their comments in writing and could speak their concerns directly to the Panel. Finally, the meeting also provided a forum for members of the community to ask questions of the Panel in person.
Take a look at the information for the Community Meeting held in Vaughn, Ontario on April 27, 2016 to see how we worked to make the meeting accessible to more people.
Tracking Project Conditions
We continue to make strides towards being more transparent and open with the launch of a web page that lets Canadians track how well companies are doing with pipeline approval conditions. Information on more than 3,200 detailed approval conditions is now available to Canadians in a simplified, searchable format. In May, we also launched an interactive web page specific to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.View the most up-to-date status of the 157 conditions, many of which must be met before the project can be built by checking out the interactive tool.
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