Deciphering the NEB review process

Council of Canadians Energy East town hall in Hampton, NB (Credit: Angela Giles)

The National Energy Board process for reviewing the Energy East Pipeline is different than those used to review other pipelines, and we should view it as an opportunity to build opposition to a risky project that is better left in the past. Read on for details about how this process works and how we can use it to our advantage.

The first thing that we need to understand is that this is a unique process designed by the NEB for the Energy East pipeline partly in response to the interim measures (that fall short on anumber of issues) announced by the liberals while they complete the four separate review processes they more recently announced for the NEB , CEAA, Fisheries Act, and Navigable Water Protection Act. However, this process should not be seen as the holy grail of pipeline processes, but as an opportunity that can be used to build opposition to a risky project that is better left in the past.

Second the NEB review process for Energy East includes 3 streams as outlined in this graphic: 1) Main NEB Review Panel, 2) Public Consultations and 3) Upstream GHG Assessment. Below we delve into what each of these streams entail.

Finally, there are 3 official roles you can have in the NEB Review Process: A) Member of the public, B) Intervenor and C) Commenter.  Below we describe each of these roles for you.

Update 1 - Most recent details on the process can be found in the Hearing Order released July 20th.

Update 2 - Panel board members stepped down on September 9th after allegations of conflict of interest -- Panel Sessions have been cancelled until new board members are selected and the process resumes. 

One review, 3 streams:

1. Main NEB Review Panel

Starts:  June 16th 2016 (announcement)

Duration:  21 months (until March 16th 2018)

Description of process:

The review panel process consists of a 3 person panel that will review the application and issue recommendations. This process will begin with panel sessions that are open to the public and meant to be preliminary processes that will set priorities and prepare for the subsequent phases of the review, including presentation of arguments, cross-examination of the company and submission of additional information requests to the company or other participants (intervenors or commenters) if information is unclear or missing.

The panel sessions are reserved for oral contributions from the people who were approved asintervenors. Written submissions will also be accepted at some point from the approvedcommenters, but the process for this will only be announced at the same time as the hearing order in mid-July. The NEB published a list of issues that will be considered by the review panel. Note that this does not explicitly include climate related issues, and that anyone who had only applied to participate as intervenor or commenter on climate grounds was refused and the issue deferred to a separate process (see #3 below).

The panel sessions start on August 8th 2016 and go until December. Below you will find the complete schedule of the panel sessions. Additional steps of the review process beyond December will all be announced at the same time as the Hearing Order is issued in mid-July.

Schedule of Panel Sessions:

Locations Dates (2016)
Saint John, NB August 8-12
Fredericton, NB August 15-19
Montreal, QC August 29-September 2
Quebec City, QC October 3-7
Regina, SK October 12-14
Winnipeg, MB October 25-28
North Bay, ON November 1-4
Calgary, AB November 7-10
Thunder Bay, ON November 28-December 2
Kingston, ON December 12-16

 

2. Public Consultations

Starts: Winter 2016-2017

Duration: Until mid-2017

Description of process:

Details for the public engagement or public consultation processes have yet to be announced, but we know they will include opportunities for the broader public that hasn’t applied to be intervenor or commenter, or wasn’t accepted as one or the other, to submit written contributions and participate in community meetings. This process will start in the winter of 2016-2017 and the results of these meetings will be summarized by a different 3 person panel (yet to be announced) and submitted mid-2017 to be considered as part of the NEB Panel Review. This graphic presents all the information we know so far. More information to come (no clear timelines for release of information).

 

3. Upstream GHG assessment

Starts: Winter or spring 2017 (?)

Duration: Until March 2018

Description of process:

Thus far the information we have is also from the same graphic and explains that a draft assessment of upstream GHGs (Greenhouse gases) will be complete around the spring of 2017 and be followed by public consultations that will lead to the completion of a final report by March 2018.

 

Participant roles:

A. Members of the public

At this point in the process there are 4 main areas you can look forward to participate in:

  • Raising questions and building opposition in your community (ex: city council, local landowner association, etc.)
  • Participate in community meetings in early 2017 (details yet to be announced).
  • Participate in Upstream GHG Assessment public consultations in the spring of 2017 (details yet to be announced)
  • Attend the Panel Sessions as an observer (potentially limited space) – See dates above.

Much of the efforts of the Council of Canadians will be to encourage public participation and provide tools to encourage this participation. See: www.noenergyeast.ca for more information on why we are opposing the Energy East pipeline. More information to come.

 

B. Intervenors

If your name or the name of your organization appears on the list of intervenors you will be able to participate in the 21 month process, first by contributing a 10 minute oral representation during one of the opening panel sessions (see schedule above). Later in the process you should also be able to submit written comments, submit information requests to the company or other participants (intervenors or commenters), as well as ask questions to cross-examine the company. Details for these processes will be released with the Hearing Order in mid-July.

If they haven’t done so, intervenors can also apply to obtain participant funding through the Participant Funding Program. Organizations can receive up to 40k, mainly to pay for logistical preparation expenses, preparation of expert testimony or legal fees to help prepare your submission. Individuals can access up to 14k in funding. Follow this link to find more information on the Participant Funding Program.

Note that the Council of Canadians will participate in the NEB process as an intervenor.

 

C. Commenters

If your name or the name of your organization appears on the list of commenters you will be able to submit written comments during the 21 month process. Information on how this will work will be released with the Hearing Order in mid July.

Living blog:  this page will be updated as new information is made available


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