On January 26, 2016, Canada's Commissioner of the
Environment and Sustainable Development (Julie Gelfand) filed her
Fall 2015 Reports with the House of Commons. The Report on the Oversight of Federally Regulated
Pipelines sets out the results of the Commissioner's audit
of the National Energy Board's (NEB) oversight of federally
regulated pipelines. At a high level, the Commissioner found that
there were aspects of the NEB's oversight that could be
improved. The NEB has accepted the Commissioner's
recommendations for improvement.
One key area of focus in the Commissioner's Report on the
Oversight of Federally Regulated Pipelines is whether the NEB was
verifying that regulated companies were complying with pipeline
project approval conditions and regulations. Another key area is
whether the NEB was prepared to fulfill its role in pipeline
emergency response and had verified that companies' emergency
manuals were complete and up-to-date.
On the first item, the Commissioner found that the NEB's
tracking of company compliance with pipeline approval conditions
has been inadequate. The Commissioner noted that pipeline approval
conditions and regulations are meant to facilitate the safe
construction and operation of pipelines and that regulatory
oversight of these items is important to reducing the risk of
non-compliance and protecting public safety. The Commissioner
recommends that the NEB more closely monitor compliance with
pipeline approval conditions, and remedial actions required of
pipeline companies, and adequately document this work. It is also
recommended that more information about pipeline company compliance
be made available to the public. The NEB has agreed to implement
On the second item, the Commissioner found that there are ways
that the NEB can improve its role as lead federal agency in
pipeline emergency response. This is particularly important because
the NEB will have the power to take over emergency responses in
some circumstances under the recently-passed Pipeline Safety
Act, which will come into force by June 2016 (as
discussed in an earlier
post). One specific recommendation is that the NEB should
consolidate all risks identified through various risk assessment
activities into an all-hazards risk assessment to inform the
NEB's risk management plan.
At the end of the Report on the Oversight of Federally Regulated
Pipelines, the Commissioner notes that the NEB is experiencing
challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled experienced staff,
particularly in key areas such as safety and engineering. The
Commissioner warns that this must be an area of focus and
improvement, especially with the expansion of the NEB's
oversight role and the number of large new pipeline projects. The
NEB has agreed to continue to focus efforts on attracting and
retaining staff in key safety and engineering roles.
It will be interesting to follow the Government's response
to the Commissioner's Report on the Oversight of Federally
Regulated Pipelines, and how this response fits with the Prime
Minister's commitment to "modernize" the
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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