The Government of Canada has released its much-anticipated overhaul of the National Energy Board (NEB) and Calgary will remain the headquarters for the renamed Canadian Energy Regulator as Ottawa streamlines the review process for major natural resources projects.
The new process will include a review by a panel of independent experts, appointed by the Minister of Environment. The review will be more extensive than the NEB’s assessments, but the time frame for a decision on major natural resource projects is 600 days (compared with the current 730 days or 24 months).
Smaller projects will have a 300-day review process.
The new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will assess environmental, health, social and economic impacts as well as long-term effects on Indigenous peoples. However, the federal cabinet will retain its right to approve projects it deems to be in the national interest.
Ottawa billed the new process as “One project. One assessment.”
Calgary Economic Development prepared a submission to Ottawa after a government panel released a report last spring that recommended the Board of Directors and other key functions of the NEB be relocated to Ottawa.
“We made the case that as a centre for all things energy in Canada, Calgary is the ideal home for the NEB (or the CER as it’s now called) so it can play an important role in the innovation ecosystem here taking on the challenges in energy and environment,” said Mary Moran, President & CEO at Calgary Economic Development.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in Ottawa the revamped regulator will be better able to protect the environment, improve investor confidence, and “make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive."
Expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline would have been approved under the new process, McKenna said, and reiterated "we need this project to go ahead.”