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Gaétan Caron, Chair and CEO
National Energy Board
(NEB) 20 November 2013
Slide 1 speaking notes (click to view)
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today on who we are, what we do and how in all of this, the public interest of Canadians is always front of mind for the National Energy Board.
Many people in this room are landowners and may be affected by existing NEB regulated pipelines or by projects coming or currently before the Board. The NEB has always maintained a positive working relationship with the UPA and its members. It is important that we hear from you.
Slide 2 speaking notes (click to view)
I'd like to begin with some background on the NEB. The NEB is an independent federal agency established by the Parliament of Canada in 1959 to regulate:
- the construction and operation of international and interprovincial pipelines, and international power lines;
- pipeline tolls & tariffs;
- oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), natural gas liquids and electricity exports, and natural gas imports;
- exploration, development, and production of oil and gas on federal lands, such as the Northwest Territories, and federal offshore areas such as part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Beaufort Sea.
In addition to our role as a regulator, the NEB reports on specific energy matters, holds public inquiries when appropriate, and monitors current and future supplies of Canada's major energy commodities.
Our Board includes up to 9 permanent Board Members, who are appointed by Government in Council, each for a 7 year term, and 7 temporary Board Members. Our offices are located in Calgary and we have over 450 professionals with a wide variety of specializations (engineering, economics, finance, environment, socio-economics, lands, law, and accounting, just to name a few).
Slide 3 speaking notes (click to view)
The map shows all NEB regulated pipelines. We regulate over 71,000 km of pipelines.
Slide 4 speaking notes (click to view)
Unlike other federal government departments, the NEB doesn’t set public policy. Policy direction, as well as the legislation which governs the actions and decisions of the NEB, is set by Parliament.
The NEB is responsible for implementing the mandate set by Parliament through its legislation, however as an independent regulator separate from government, we are required to carry out our business and make decisions free from political influence. This is necessary in order to preserve the public’s confidence in the fairness of the decision-making process.
While the NEB operates at arm’s length from government, we are still required to report on our activities to Canadians through Parliament. The NEB does this through the Minister of Natural Resources.
Slide 5 speaking notes (click to view)
We take very seriously the burden of trust Canadians have placed upon our shoulders to require safe energy development, and we continue to respond through activities such as inspections and audits and, when required, strong enforcement actions.
The Board's many protection programs are designed to make sure companies are effective in managing safety and environmental protection throughout the entire lifecycle of a pipeline. Board staff routinely conduct activities such as inspections, emergency exercises, audits and investigations all with prevention and the ultimate goal of zero incidents in mind.
Slide 6 speaking notes (click to view)
We actively monitor compliance and will take all available actions to protect the public and the environment. Pipeline companies are required to report to the Board any non-compliance by the public and landowners. When a non-compliance is detected, the NEB expects immediate correction and an assessment of the root causes in order to prevent the issue from happening again.
The Board works with landowners to ensure our regulatory requirements are understood and to achieve compliance. Our current approach under the Damage Prevention Framework is designed to ensure that pipeline companies, landowners and third parties understand and fulfill their responsibilities for preventing damage to pipelines.
This year, the NEB gained a new enforcement tool. In addition to the NEB's existing enforcement toolkit, which includes Inspection Officer Orders and Board Orders , we now also have the ability to issue financial penalties. These are called Administrative Monetary Penalties or AMPs. Under our published policy for enforcement, facilitated compliance such as letters, orders and commitments will be used in most cases of non-compliance. AMPs will be used when other tools are not working.
Slide 7 speaking notes (click to view)
We hold NEB regulated companies responsible for anticipating, preventing, mitigating and managing incidents of any size or duration. If there is an incident, as mentioned, we expect an immediate response.
The NEB's top priority in any emergency is to make sure that people are safe and secure, and that property and the environment are protected. The NEB has a comprehensive Emergency Management Program which can include a field response. Any time there is a serious incident on an NEB-regulated energy facility, NEB staff may attend the site to oversee the company's response. We require that all reasonable actions are taken to protect employees, the public and the environment. We will verify that the regulated company conducts an adequate and appropriate clean-up and remediation of any environmental effects caused by the incident.
Each regulated company is required to have an Emergency Management Program which includes an up-to-date Emergency Procedures Manual or Contingency Plan. These manuals and plans must outline each company's emergency management, environmental protection and worker and public safety management procedures to be followed during an incident. Additionally, companies are required to develop a training program and conduct exercises to verify their capabilities to respond to incidents.
These plans must take into account how a company will pay for its response. To that end, we require all companies to appoint an accountable officer who has the authority over the company's human and financial resources required to ensure that the company meets its obligations for safety, security and protection of the environment.
Slide 8 speaking notes (click to view)
In June this year, the NEB held a Safety Forum in Calgary. This was a key action committed to by the Board in its Action Plan on Safety and Environmental Protection. With industry leaders, we discussed and emphasized the importance of their role in building and maintaining a safety culture, effectiveness of management systems and performance measurement's role in risk management.
It was at the Forum that the NEB confirmed that a goal of zero incidents is not only the right goal, but also an achievable goal. With strong, well-implemented management systems and a safety culture that permeates every aspect of the organization, incidents are preventable and the NEB will continue to take steps to make this goal a reality.
We expect our regulated companies to demonstrate a similar commitment to continually improving their safety culture in the months and years ahead.
Coming out of the Safety Forum, the Board reaffirmed its commitment to transparency and will be consulting Canadians on the kinds of information they would like to see about the facilities we regulate. We have agreed with the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources recent recommendations to provide information on the location of pipelines. We are also committed to having information on company emergency response plans made available.
Slide 9 speaking notes (click to view)
Safety and security are our top priorities. However, the responsibility that we are best known for is our review of applications and public hearings.
Applications are made to the NEB for any of the activities that the NEB regulates. After an application is submitted, the NEB will review it and determine whether a hearing is required and if so, whether it is to be a written or an oral hearing. For hearings, the Board may use video-conferencing and remote participation. By leveraging technology, we are making our hearings accessible to more Canadians and helping reduce travel costs for participants.
A hearing will typically be held for certain types of applications, such as for new interprovincial or international pipelines over 40 kilometers in length. Applications for pipelines under 40km in length, as well as the maintenance or replacement of pipeline facilities do not automatically trigger a public hearing.
A hearing will typically consider 4 broad areas: safety and security, environmental protection, efficient energy infrastructure, and the rights & interests of those affected by a project.
Slide 10 speaking notes (click to view)
The goal of public hearings is to determine if a project is in the Canadian public interest. The public interest is inclusive of all Canadians and refers to a balance of environmental, economic and social considerations that changes as society's values and preferences evolve over time.
The Board must hear from the people who are directly impacted by a proposed project, and may hear from those who have information and expertise that could help the Board make its decision.
Everyone must apply to participate and the Board will consider each application to participate on a case-by-case basis. When determining if a person is directly affected the Board will consider the nature of the person's interest, for example whether a person has specific and detailed interest in the project, rather than general public interest. The Board will set out the methods of participation for the hearing in the Hearing Order, but usually you can apply to be an Intervenor or to submit a Letter of Comment.
When determining if a person has relevant information or expertise, the Board will consider the source of the person's knowledge (e.g. local, regional or Aboriginal), the extent to which the information is within the project scope and related to the list of issues, and how much value the information will add to the Board's decision or recommendation.
There is financial assistance to support intervenor participation in a hearing.
When applying to participate, we encourage anyone to contact one of the Board's Process Advisors. You can find their contact information on the Major Applications and Projects page of our website. They can provide one-on-one support about the Board's processes and the Application to Participate form.
The Board also will typically hold online and in-person information sessions where members of the community can ask questions directly to NEB staff and receive additional information about the NEB's mandate and public hearing process.
Slide 11 speaking notes (click to view)
I also wanted to briefly mention the TransCanada Energy East pipeline project. I imagine many of you have heard of it already. Energy East is an example of a potential application that will be reviewed by the NEB and I wanted to provide an update.
We have not received a project description from TransCanada. A Project Description is a pre-application filing that initiates NEB pre-Application engagement activities such as public information sessions and Participant Funding.
At this time, if you have specific questions about Energy East, contact TransCanada directly. We will be updating our website and project webpage regularly. You can also sign up for email updates through the project webpage.
National Energy Board
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