Today, the Canada West Foundation released Up Front: Modernizing the National Energy Board.

Report author Trevor McLeod, Director of the Natural Resources Centre, discusses the report’s recommendations, and the way forward for the NEB.

The report is as much about putting the energy decision-making system into perspective as it is about fixing the National Energy Board (NEB). The NEB has been caught in the crossfire of fierce energy, environment and Indigenous debates – which have damaged public opinion about the regulator’s ability to do its job. The report states that the NEB must first address concerns about its legitimacy and whether Canadians trust it to make major energy decisions before it can become a modern, effective regulatory system.

Up Front has also been submitted to the NEB modernization expert panel. The panel is tasked by the Trudeau government to look for ways to make the NEB more “modern, efficient and effective.” To succeed, it must address concerns about legitimacy and trust. The report provides several recommendations on how to address those concerns, including:

• Adopt a two-part review process that puts the political decision up front.
• Important climate policy decisions should not be made by the NEB.
• NEB staff should improve engagement in local communities.
• NEB panel members should remain above the fray – and avoid turning into competing experts.
• The NEB’s energy information function should be housed in a separate federal body such as Statistics Canada.