National Energy Board Consultation on Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Section Update to Filing Manual

Consultation

Closed Consultation

When: January 14, 2011
Where: Calgary, AB

Following a request from the National Energy Board (NEB), the RCEN's Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus selected 10 ENGO delegates to participate in a bilateral consultation to seek ENGO input into the Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (ESA) Section Update to the NEB's Filing Manual. The Filing Manual has been developed to provide guidance regarding the information the NEB would typically need when making its decision on a proposed project.

ENGO Comments
Read the written and oral submissions from RCEN selected delegates to this consultation by visiting the NEB website (see Supporting Documents).

The Filing Manual Update provides an opportunity for all interested parties and the Board to engage in dialogue, improve understanding of environmental and socio-economic assessment review processes currently in place, and generate options for potential improvements to the environmental and socio-economic assessment section of the Filing Manual. This consuiltation assisted the NEB in fulfilling its responsibilities under the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

RCEN Selected ENGO Delegates

RCEN Selected ENGO Alternates

Objectives
The NEB’s objectives for consultation activities on the ESA section of the Filing Manual are to:

  1. Improve understanding of ESA review processes currently in place;
  2. Clarify the Board’s expectations for filings; and
  3. Identify opportunities for potential improvements to the ESA section of the Filing Manual.
Participants in this consultation included:
RCEN selected ENGO delegates and the NEB Project Team consisting of:
  • Céline Sirois, Project Manager and Technical Specialist, Environment
  • Kym Hopper-Smith, Assistant Project Manager
  • Kent Lien, Technical Specialist, Environment
  • Marcus Eyre, Technical Specialist, Environment
  • Margaret McQuiston, Technical Specialist, Socio-economics
Other NEB subject matter experts may also attend, as appropriate.

Background Information


NEB’s Purpose
The National Energy Board is an independent federal agency established to promote safety and security, environmental protection and economic efficiency in the Canadian public interest within the mandate set by Parliament for the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade.

Companies regulated by the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act) are required to seek the
Board's approval to, among other things:
  • construct and operate international and interprovincial pipelines and international powerlines in Canada, along with related facilities and activities, or modify or abandon existing facilities and activities;
  • export oil and electricity, and export and import gas; and
  • establish pipeline tolls and tariffs.
Identifying the potential for and significance of environmental and socio-economic effects is only part of the Board’s decision process; this is unique compared to many other regulators tasked with ESA responsibilities. When seeking approval, applicants must submit applications or information (collectively referred to as filings) to the Board that would enable the Board to:
  • evaluate the potential benefits of a project and its potential negative aspects;
  • assess the various impacts; and
  • make an informed decision in the Canadian public interest that integrates, among other things, present and future economic, environmental and social considerations in support of Canada’s pursuit of a sustainable energy future.
Filing Manual Update
While it is ultimately the responsibility of an applicant to make its case before the Board, the Filing Manual has been developed to provide guidance regarding the information the Board would typically need when making its decision on a proposed project. This will assist the Board in fulfilling its responsibilities under the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It is the Board’s expectation that applicants will consider the Filing Manual to the extent necessary and based on the facts of their own proposed project. Please note, however, that in every case, the Board will determine the information that is required to be filed in order to assess that particular project on its merits, and the information set out in the Filing Manual does not prevent the Board from requesting any additional information it may find relevant.

At this time, key areas for improvement relate to environmental and socio-economic assessment methodology and include:
  • Assessing environmental and socio-economic effects of a project – for example, establishing project scope, alternatives, and spatial and temporal boundaries, considering accepted thresholds,management objectives, or land use and recovery plans, and determining significance;
  • Assessing the cumulative effects of the project in combination with other projects – for example, defining “other projects”, establishing spatial and temporal boundaries, and identifying means and accountability for mitigation and monitoring.
Following the consultation process, the Board will consider the input that has been provided, will adjust its proposed amendments as appropriate based on the results of feedback received, and will release an updated ESA section of the Filing Manual.

For more information or to view the Draft Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Section of the Filing Manual go here.

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