Natural Resources Minister Carr has appointed three new panel members to the National Energy Board after three of its former members recused themselves from the Energy East TransCanada project hearings. The Acting Chair of the NEB must now assign duties for the three members, which likely will include panel hearings for the stalled Energy East hearings.
The former panel members ruled on September 9, 2016 that they should recuse themselves after Stratégies Énergétiques and Association Québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique filed a letter with the National Energy Board seeking their recusal and the suspension of the hearings until a new panel could be appointed. Transition Initiative Kenora filed a motion seeking a similar ruling. These organizations sought the recusals on the basis that former Quebec premier Jean Charest, acting as a paid TransCanada consultant, had been meeting privately with two of the panel members.
The controversies remain however. The former panel had already conducted hearings in New Brunswick. Among other concerns raised, there were calls last September from New Brunswick groups to start the hearings over from the beginning, to allow presenters under the “tainted” hearings to repeat their presentations, and to allow other decisions of the panelists to be reconsidered. Greenpeace Canada is requesting that there be no restart until new rules are in place, which rules have been promised under the current federal government.
On November 7, 2016, the government announced a panel to review the NEB, with a focus on governance and structure; mandate and future opportunities; decision-making roles, including for major projects; compliance, enforcement and ongoing monitoring; engagement with Indigenous peoples; and public participation. The deadline for submitting comments is February 17, 2017.