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October 27, 2017 6:43 pm

NEB Modernization Focus of Two Days of Talks In Fort St. John

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 @ 5:49 AM

Fort St. John, B.C.  – How  can the National Energy Board  be made  more efficient and  reflect the concerns of Canadians?  Those  are  issues the Expert Panel on the  Modernization of the National Energy Board  has been  tasked with  tackling.

The  panel   is in Ft. St. John today and tomorrow,  listening to the public’s concerns as part of its public engagement  phase which  will see  the  panel  hold  sessions in ten different communities across Canada as it tries to  come up with recommendations which  will make the NEB more efficient.

“Efficiency would cover governance”  says  expert panel  co-chair  Helene Lauzon ,   “Instead of  having only people who reside in Calgary as a panel member,  you would have people from all over the country of different expertise.  Indigenous people are saying, ‘Well,  they don’t consider  traditional knowledge’ so they would like traditional knowledge to be  incorporated in the National Energy  Board Act. ”

She says   people are telling  the panel  they  want to be heard, but to  be heard, they have to demonstrate they are an affected party.  While  a pipeline may not cross their specific property, Indigenous peoples are saying their rights “may eventually cross a  pipeline.”  There are also  concerns being expressed that  filing  comments  on the NEB’s website is “laborious”.  Safety issues  and  emergency measures  related to pipelines  are also  popular  concerns being   presented to the expert panel.

There is a fine line between  making the NEB  an effective Board,   and not adding more  layers  that would make it more cumbersome “We are very concerned about that” says Lauzon  “When we  discuss it among our ourselves, if we’re going to improve it , it should not be  worse than it is in terms  of accessibility, of  fluidity, transparency, independence.  This is the kind of thing we  are starting  to discuss.”

Today’s  session ( at the Pomeroy Hotel) will see  presentations, dialogue sessions and  an open house  from 7 – 9 this evening.  Tomorrow,  the panel will focus on  Indigenous issues  but sessions both days are open to anyone  with an interest in the modernization  of the NEB.

While the NEB  has jurisdiction on  pipeline and  power lines,  Lauzon says most of the comments received so far, are focused on pipeline projects  “With all the major projects,  that raised the awareness ( of pipelines) and people are more concerned now.”

The panel  has until May 15th  to submit its  final report and  any recommendations for change.





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