National Energy Board Ministerial Briefing Binder – Introductory Letter

4 November 2015

The Honourable James Carr, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Room: C7-1
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E4

Dear Minister:

On behalf of the National Energy Board (NEB or the Board), welcome to the Natural Resources portfolio.

The NEB is an independent agency created by Parliament to regulate pipelines, power lines, and energy development and trade in the public interest. Our mandate is guided by legislation, including the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act), the Canada Oil and Gas Resources Act (COGOA), and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012). The Board is accountable to Parliament through you, the Minister of Natural Resources.

We are very proud of the work we do at the NEB and we have a critically important responsibility to provide regulatory oversight to approximately 73,000 kilometers of interprovincial and international pipelines. This amount is nearly enough pipeline to wrap around the earth twice. Last year, NEB-regulated pipelines, which are owned by over 100 companies, shipped approximately $159 billion worth of crude oil and petroleum products, natural gas liquids and natural gas to Canadians and export customers. The NEB also regulates approximately 1,400 kilometres of international power lines, almost the distance between Yellowknife to Regina. These are owned by over 30 companies who transmitted approximately $3.6 billion of electricity into and out of Canada.

Our priority is to ensure that energy transportation and development is safe for Canadians and protects the environment. Our core programs foster safety and environmental protection throughout the lifecycle of the facilities we regulate. The Board:

  • Makes decisions and recommendations in the public interest on issues and applications related to pipelines and powerlines, energy development and trade.
  • Holds regulated companies accountable to conduct all activities safely to eliminate or reduce risk to the public, workers, the environment and property.
  • Promotes awareness of Canadian energy markets and the NEB’s role as a full-lifecycle regulator.

In 2014, the NEB conducted 353 compliance activities related to public safety, security and environmental protection.

Public trust in our role as a regulator is critical. Recently, I conducted a national engagement tour and what I heard from Canadians was that they were concerned about how the NEB is protecting their water and land. Canadians either do not know the NEB or misunderstand it, and that fault lies with us. There is a heightened public expectation that we will address many issues in the debate around fossil fuels, including climate change and the pace of oil and gas development. These issues are legitimate concerns of the public; however they fall outside our mandate. The result is unprecedented interest in our reviews of new pipeline projects, and scrutiny of the actions we take to hold regulated companies accountable for safety and the protection of the environment.

The NEB is stepping up to meet this challenge. The NEB understands that trust comes from demonstrating clear intent, transparent actions and predictability. We must clearly define our role to the public as a decision-maker and life-cycle regulator. We must demonstrate concrete actions on safety and transparency and we must be inclusive of Canadians and support their desire to be informed. To guide these actions, I have taken the NEB on a new direction and we are advancing three strategic priorities to support it.

Our first strategic priority is to continue to take action on safety. We are focusing our efforts and resources on developing, refining, and communicating our actions on safety and environmental protection.

Our second priority is to lead regulatory excellence and to continue to improve as a regulator.

Our third priority is to engage with Canadians through the life of our regulated facilities. This includes the project application review, construction, operation and abandonment. This requires broad engagement across Canada, including a more responsive focus on regional issues. We are also committed to improving the public accessibility of information about regulated facilities and the NEB’s activities. The Prime Minister has stated that while governments grant permits, communities grant permission. I strongly believe this occurs when communities are actively engaged, heard and their concerns are considered.

The Government has committed to taking action on climate change, and the NEB is supportive of this objective. In the near future, the NEB will release Canada’s Energy Future 2015: Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2040. This is the NEB’s flagship energy information product Information not available s. 21(1)(a). Publicly accessible information on the linkage between climate change and energy demand is an important input to the public discourse and will assist with evidence-based policy-making.

We welcome increased transparency and embrace constructive scrutiny. In 2015, the NEB and Natural Resources Canada underwent a performance audit by the Office of the Auditor General’s Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development. Information not available s. 21(1) (a) Information not available s. 21(1) (b). I look forward to a more fulsome conversation with you on this file.

The NEB also looks forward to working with the Government to implement measures to improve the credibility of the environmental assessment and project review processes. The NEB, like the Government, is resolved to work hard on behalf of Canadians to build greater trust in our processes and to improve safety and environmental protection throughout the lifecycle of NEB-regulated facilities.

Building public trust is not optional, it requires concerted effort and the NEB is committed to being part of that solution.

I look forward to meeting with you at your earliest possible opportunity to discuss important and timely matters that the NEB can undertake to assist the Government in implementing its vision. The NEB looks forward to collaboration on the continued modernization of the Board.

I have enclosed a briefing binder to provide you with information about the NEB and our key activities, as well as information about major projects currently before the Board, including the Trans Mountain Expansion and Energy East Project. Information not available s. 21(1) (a) Information not available s. 21(1) (b)

I look forward to working with you in your new role.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

C. Peter Watson

c.c.: Bob Hamilton, Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada

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