A new report reaffirms the failure of oil industry oversight under the former Conservative government led by Stephen Harper. According to a report by the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, the National Energy Board (NEB) has failed to assess whether pipeline companies are in compliance with environmental, safety and other conditions. The new audit was tabled in the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday, January 26, 2015.
“Overall, we found that the National Energy Board’s tracking of company compliance with pipeline approval conditions was inadequate,” the report said.
The lack of follow up and failure to systematically review pipeline projects led the commission to the conclusion that the NEB has effectively failed to live up to its mandate as the national regulator for pipeline projects.
In essence this amounts to ignoring input on issues raised in public hearings. In half the cases they audited the commission found that compliance was either out of date or files were missing. There are examples of compliance conditions being ignored that in some cases date back a decade or more.
The problems with the NEB extend all the way down to the level of the information systems which are outdated, disorganized and inefficient.
The new Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau, has indicated it will modernize the NEB and the regulator said his organization will comprehensively address all of the report’s findings by the end of this year.
The Canadian federal government has also said that it will require a climate test on all fossil fuel pipelines. This includes the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain and TransCanada Energy East pipelines. Trudeau said the Liberals new rules would require that companies “take into account all greenhouse gas emissions including those upstream.”
In a press conference Trudeau said that his job is to look out for Canada’s best interests and not act as a “cheerleader” for various pipeline projects as the previous Conservative government did.
“My responsibility as prime minister is to make sure that on national projects, we’re behaving in a way that both contributes to the economy, to a secure environment,” Trudeau said in Montreal on Tuesday morning.
“For 10 years, we had a government that acted rather as a cheerleader for such projects instead of acting as a responsible referee and establish a clear, open, rigorous and transparent approval process — and that’s what we intend to do,” Trudeau said in French during a news conference in Montreal.