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