Prime minster urged to stop pipeline reviews, overhaul energy board

OTTAWA—More than 50 groups from across Canada have sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr urging the federal government to overhaul the National Energy Board (NEB) before, not after, it decides how to proceed with the two proposed oil pipelines. The groups include 26 participants in the Energy East pipeline process, as well as intervenors from the Kinder Morgan pipeline review. Five of the signatory groups are from Northeastern Ontario, including Northwatch.

“Firing a couple of conflict of interest tainted appointees and rescheduling a hearing is not going to fix the broken and discredited NEB,” said Patrick DeRochie, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence. “It’s time for the federal government to pull the plug on the Energy East pipeline review and overhaul the NEB.”

The letter points out that the NEB’s problems goes beyond its board member’s inappropriate meeting with former premier Jean Charest. The board has been widely criticized for its political appointees, conflict of interest allegations, shutting out public and Indigenous voices, and a weak record on pipeline safety, monitoring, reporting and compliance. The  letter says that the NEB suffers from so many shortcomings that the institution fundamentally lacks legitimacy.

“Local communities, First Nations, scientists and others need to be listened to, but there is no faith in the NEB process, which only continues to send the message that Canada’s energy future remains in incapable, ineffective hands,” said Daniel Cayley-Daoust of the Council of Canadians.

Prime Minister Trudeau has acknowledged that the (NEB) needs to be revamped for its decisions to be trusted as fair and impartial. However, prior to this overhaul, the federal government is allowing the NEB to review two major proposed oil pipeline projects. Opposition to Energy East is strong and growing across Canada, especially in Quebec. The North Bay area has been a centre of opposition since the project’s announcement.

“The new federal government has said they’ll reform the NEB process, but are poised to let Energy East go through the flawed and failing system. It makes no sense. TransCanada still hasn’t got a complete application on file, so there is no rush-if the review is going to proceed, the review process must be fixed first,” said Brennain Lloyd, project coordinator with Northwatch, a Northeastern Ontario based environmental organization.