Members of the National Energy Board's panel on modernization will travel across Canada this spring to get public feedback on restructuring the country's federal energy regulator.
The panel is responsible for a wide review of the NEB, considering its overall mandate, governance and decision-making structure, as well as its policies for engaging with indigenous people and the general public.
Panel members will spend two days in each city, with presentations and discussions open to the general public, as well as meetings specifically for Indigenous people. People interested in joining the meetings can register on the panel's website.
The meetings will be recorded and transcripts will be released online, Natural Resources spokesperson Danica Vaillancourt said in an email. Reports and meeting summaries will be released in English and French and all meetings will have simultaneous interpretation available to participants in both official languages.
The cross-country meetings will begin in Saskatoon on January 25, and end in Montreal on March 29. When the hearings wrap up, the panel will have a month and a half before the May 15 deadline to return their report to the minister of natural resources.
Any new rules won't apply to projects already underway, the NEB said in a statement.
That would include the approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline system to carry up to 890,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the oilsands to Burnaby, B.C.. Enbridge's Line 3 project, which would almost double the capacity of the company's pipeline running from eastern Alberta to Wisconsin, will also continue under the existing rules.
Asked if Natural Resources expected protests at any of the events, Vaillancourt replied: “The Government welcomes the views of Canadians on issues that matter to them.”
The announcement of hearings comes as the NEB is facing a lawsuit from two northern Ontario First Nations who are arguing that the NEB violated their treaty rights and asking for up to $60 million in damages.
The NEB is also considering a legal challenge filed last week that asks for the entire consultation process on the Energy East pipeline project to be thrown out. Acting on behalf of northern Ontario-based Transition Initiative Kenora, lawyers with Ecojustice argue that the current process is tainted by conflict-of-interest allegations that forced several NEB members to resign last fall.