There is a new development in the ongoing debate about oil pipelines in B.C. and elsewhere in the country.
A new audit has found the National Energy Board is failing to enforce pipeline approval conditions or follow up on compliance problems.
The annual report from federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand says the NEB is not adequately checking on safety requirements to ensure the safe operation of some 73,000 kilometres of existing oil and gas pipelines.
“Our audit concluded that the National Energy Board did not adequately track companies’ implementation of pipeline approval conditions, and that it was not consistently following up on company deficiencies. We found that the board’s tracking systems were outdated and inefficient. We also concluded that the National Energy Board is facing ongoing challenges to recruit and retain specialists in pipeline integrity and regulatory compliance.”
Commissioner Julie Gelfand on the findings
Former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen used to be an intervenor at the NEB, but he quit in 2014 in frustration.
He tells CKNW’s Simi Sara an audit from 2011 also showed the board wasn’t doing a good job enforcing conditions, and yet nothing has changed.
Eliesen says it’s a problem with how the NEB is set up.
“The people who make up the board come directly from the industry, to a large degree. Staffing is done, to a large degree, from the industry itself.”
He says the only solution is for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow through on a promise for a new process for pipeline approvals — one that goes beyond the energy industry.
LISTEN to Simi Sara discuss the audit with Green Party leader Elizabeth May:
Green Party leader Elizabeth May addressed the National Energy Board last Thursday. May was discussing the Kinder Morgan project and said that the board’s process for hearing and weighing evidence on the project is “broken” and “outrageous” and leaves the federal government open to lawsuits.
What does she think about today’s audit?
Rich Coleman not too concerned
BC Natural Gas Development minister is not too concerned with an report saying the National Energy Board is not doing its job.
Rich Coleman says the NEB will likely launch an audit resulting in even better pipeline safety.
As for BC Coleman says the NEB isn’t responsible for the bulk of this province’s network of pipelines.
“Internally to the province it does not have a significant affect unless it is an inter-provincial pipeline but it is good that they are doing it. I always think it is always good to go back every once in a while and look at how your processes are. It doesn’t matter whether it is pipelines or something else that is a regulatory process within government. There is always new and better ways to do things and I think we should always keep that in mind to improve it to the best ability we can.”
The federal environment commissioner found the NEB wasn’t doing safety checks or enforcing compliance.
$162 billion worth of oil and gas transported in 2014
New Pipeline Safety Act on its way
The tabling of Commissioner Gelfand’s report in Parliament comes on the heels of mayors in the Montreal area rejecting the proposed Energy East pipeline, saying the risks to the environment outweigh the economic benefits, and the ongoing debate in British Columbia over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline by Enbridge, and the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Burnaby.
Gelfand says a new Pipeline Safety Act comes into force this June and the board needs to do more to keep pace with the rapidly changing context in which it operates.
The Trudeau government has said it intends to change the process by which the NEB reviews and approves or rejects major projects, including pipelines.
READ the full report here: