Fact Sheet: Pipelines and the Environment

Fact Sheet: Pipelines and the Environment [PDF 332 KB]

Energy and the environment are deeply interconnected. Canada’s energy resources come from the environment around us, and how we find, gather, ship and use energy is an intricate part of the energy debate in this country and around the globe. Canadians continue to work to find new ways to create energy, but in the meantime our existing world – from schools to places of business to homes – need to be supplied with energy. We believe that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to provide energy to Canadians.

The National Energy Board’s primary goal is that pipelines and pipeline facilities are built and operated in a way that is safe and protects the surrounding environment. As an organization, the NEB has decades of experience in considering potential environmental effects when making its regulatory decisions. Environmental impacts have been considered in Board decisions since the early 1970s. In addition, the Board has been conducting environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act since it first came into force in 1995.

One of the first steps the Board takes in considering a project proposal is to do an environmental assessment, or EA. An EA is a planning tool that identifies, assesses and, to the extent possible, mitigates the environmental effects of a project. It is completed before the NEB makes a decision or recommendation on whether or not to approve a project in the public interest. The Board commonly imposes additional conditions on projects to make environmental protection measures more robust before, during and after construction – above and beyond the measures proposed in project descriptions.

Once a project is approved and construction is underway, the NEB holds companies accountable for meeting all environmental protection conditions. NEB auditors and inspectors keep a watchful eye to make sure companies are following the rules by doing environmental inspections, along with in-depth safety audits. As a part of our environmental oversight of a pipeline or facility, we look at:

  • soil, soil productivity and vegetation
  • wetlands, water quality and quantity
  • fish, wildlife and their habitat
  • species at risk or species of special status and related habitat
  • heritage resources
  • traditional land and resource use
  • human health, aesthetics and noise

The measures put in place to protect these resources are verified by our auditors and inspectors, and company compliance with those measures is obtained through the use of a variety of enforcement tools. We also meet with companies on specific technical concerns and evaluate their readiness for emergencies on a regular basis. This helps us identify potential issues before they become problems.

To learn more about how the NEB protects the environment, please visit our website and click under Safety and the Environment.

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