Statement by Environmental Defence’s Patrick DeRochie on the appointment of new members to the National Energy Board
Toronto, ON – Today’s appointment of four new temporary members to the National Energy Board (NEB) is a distraction from the crisis engulfing the regulator. Instead of making some window-dressing appointments, the federal government needs to overhaul the NEB before the Energy East review process can begin again.
The announcement states that these new members may be assigned to carrying out the “enhanced community and Indigenous engagement”, which was promised as part of the Energy East review process. But the government is jumping the gun as these duties must be assigned by the Chair or Acting Chair, a role that remains vacant since the NEB’s Chair and Vice-Chair recused themselves last month.
A new Acting Chair has not yet been appointed to oversee the Energy East review, nor have other members of the review panel been appointed. Perhaps by coincidence, the NEB informed intervenors today that hearings have been cancelled until further notice due to the recusal of the members embroiled in the Charest Affair.
The Energy East hearings have been irreparably damaged by the apprehension of bias and the recusal of the board members. Any further review needs to be put on hold until a new process is in place. The recusal leaves some unanswered questions, including the board’s decision not to allow an investigation into its behaviour, which suggest there could be additional misdeeds.
If the government is truly interested in restoring public confidence in the energy project approval process, it has to recognize that Energy East needs to go through a new process. The federal government has promised to overhaul the NEB – and now is the time to deliver on this promise to Canadians.
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