Statement by Environmental Defence’s Patrick DeRochie on the report from the Expert Panel on National Energy Board Modernization
Toronto, ON – The report by the Expert Panel on the Modernization of the National Energy Board (NEB) provides some helpful recommendations to fix Canada’s broken energy regulator — including the abolition of the NEB itself. But the Expert Panel falls short of providing a comprehensive blueprint to build an energy regulator that regains public trust and takes Canada’s climate commitments seriously.
Environmental Defence welcomes the Expert Panel’s recommendation for a “climate test” for all major energy projects. But the Panel stops short of making clear that failing the climate test is a deal-breaker. The federal government must have the power to reject projects that don’t align with its climate commitments and have no economic case as the global demand for fossil fuels declines in line with the 1.5 degree temperature limit found in the Paris Agreement.
Environmental Defence applauds the Panel for its recommendations to move the energy regulator’s Board from Calgary to Ottawa; engage First Nations affected by energy projects on a nation-to-nation basis; and to create a new centralized energy information agency.
But the Panel’s proposal for the Federal Cabinet to determine whether a project is in the national interest before it undergoes an environmental assessment is problematic. Responsibility for environmental assessments must be removed from the energy regulator and be completed before a Cabinet decision.
The Expert Panel’s report makes things particularly awkward for the proposed Energy East pipeline. The NEB’s review of the pipeline must be put on hold until NEB modernization is complete. To proceed with the Energy East review using a broken, outdated process — by a regulator that could now be abolished — would destroy what little credibility this review has left.
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