With most eyes on the U.S., and those of the climate community on Marrakech, the federal government unveiled a five-member panel to “provide recommendations on modernizing Canada’s federal energy regulator, the National Energy Board,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a release.
Panel members include David Besner, Wendy Grant-John, Brenda Kenny, Hélène Lauzon and Gary Merasty, with Lauzon and Merasty serving as co-chairs. “The panel members’ areas of expertise include policy, energy, business, environment, scientific, regional, and Indigenous knowledge,” the release states.
Noting that the government is also awaiting the results of a “comprehensive review of Canada’s environmental assessment process,” the statement said the new panel “will examine issues beyond environmental assessment, including the NEB’s governance structure, role, and mandate, with particular focus on enhancing the participation of the public and Indigenous peoples in regulatory reviews.” The panel will hear Canadians’ views in person and online, and will seek the specific views of Indigenous peoples as part of this process.”
The panel will report by March 31, 2017, and its findings will be made public, the government said. Meanwhile, “for major projects already under review, [the] government will continue to rely on the NEB to support key decisions.”
For several years, the Board has been under mounting criticism, culminating in its shambolic retreat from hearings in Montreal amid accusations of apparent favoritism on the part of some members.
“The NEB’s structure, role, and mandate must all be reconsidered in order to maintain the agency’s relevance and re-establish its credibility,” said Pembina Institute federal policy director Erin Flanagan, in a response to what she termed Carr’s “encouraging” announcement.
“This includes embedding sustainability considerations within the legislated definition of the public interest, removing barriers to stakeholder participation, and strengthening the NEB’s approach to energy supply and demand forecasting,” she said. “This must ensure the Board is equipped to consider progressively more stringent climate action in its modeling scenarios, and to assess the related economic implications for domestic and global rates of fossil fuel production.