On November 8, 2016, Natural Resources Minister Carr announced the members of the Expert Panel that will provide recommendations on modernizing the National Energy Board (NEB). The members of the NEB Modernization Expert Panel are David Besner, Wendy Grant-John, Brenda Kenny, Hélène Lauzon (co-chair) and Gary Merasty (co-chair). The panel members’ areas of expertise include policy, energy, business, environment, scientific, regional and Indigenous knowledge.

This is the next step in an initiative that is intended to satisfy the Liberal Government’s commitment to review and restore confidence in Canada’s environmental and regulatory processes.

As we previously wrote, the stated goal of the Government’s plan to “modernize” the NEB is “to ensure its composition reflects regional views and has sufficient expertise in such fields as environmental science, community development and Indigenous traditional knowledge.” According to an earlier Press Release, “modernization of the NEB will ensure it is able to continue to effectively regulate energy developments in Canada in a way that has the confidence of Canadians.” This may involve reforms to the NEB and the National Energy Board Act.

The Terms of Reference for the NEB Modernization Expert Panel are said to reflect comments received on the draft version of that document that was published in June 2016 (discussed here). The Expert Panel is directed to develop and implement Engagement Plans allowing it to consult with a wide range of parties, including interested stakeholders, provincial and territorial governments, the public and Indigenous organizations, groups, communities and individuals. Much of this engagement will be undertaken through public, in-person sessions.

The NEB Modernization Expert Panel is directed to conduct its engagement activities commencing in December 2016 and ending in February 2017. The Expert Panel is expected to complete its review and provide its report to the Minister on or before March 31, 2017. According to the Terms of Reference, the results of this work will enable the development of potential legislative changes related to modernizing the NEB.

The dates for the NEB Modernization Expert Panel’s activities are several months later than was anticipated when this process was launched in June 2016. While not stated, this delay may be caused at least in part by the issues that led to the resignation of the NEB’s Energy East Hearing Panel. No information has been provided about when a new NEB panel will be appointed for that proceeding.