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Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel


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Joint Review Panel Recommendation

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens next? When will we know if the Governor in Council is going to accept the Panel's recommendation?

The Panel's recommendation report has been submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Governor in Council will make the decision on whether or not the project should proceed. The timeline for the Government's decision statement is 180 days (approximately six months) from submission of the Joint Review Panel's report and its Regulatory Recommendation. If the project is approved, the National Energy Board must issue its certificates of public convenience and necessity within seven days of the Government's decision statement.

Can the Governor in Council ask the Panel to change its recommendation?

The Governor in Council can either choose to accept the Panel's recommendation and direct the National Energy Board to issue certificates of public convenience and necessity or direct the National Energy Board to dismiss the Northern Gateway application.

Before making its decision, the Governor in Council can order the National Energy Board to reconsider the recommendation or any of the conditions. The order may specify any factor that the National Energy Board must take into account in its reconsideration. The National Energy Board can, for example, confirm a condition, remove it, or replace it with another one.

Since the Panel's mandate has expired, who makes the final decision on whether or not to make changes to the conditions?

If the Governor in Council orders reconsideration, the National Energy Board will reconsider and decide whether or not to make changes to what is contained in the report.

Is the project now approved or does the applicant need any further permits or licenses?

The final decision on whether or not the project should proceed will be made by the Governor in Council. Detailed route hearings could be required for certain segments of the route. Various permits and authorizations from other boards and government agencies may also be required. For example, a provincial permit when working near sites which have archaeological significance may be required.

Assuming that the government accepts the Panel's recommendation and there are no legal challenges, when is the earliest date that construction could begin?

Northern Gateway has said that construction could begin in 2014 and that it is anticipated that the project would be completed by late 2018.

Can the applicant refuse to implement the Panel's conditions?

If the project is approved, the company must comply with all conditions as set out in the certificates. The National Energy Board is responsible for verifying and enforcing compliance with all of the conditions. The Company can't modify any conditions without prior approval from the National Energy Board and can't proceed until all relevant conditions for the proposed work have been met. Non-compliance can result in assessment of administrative monetary penalties or suspension of further activities. 

How did the Panel determine the conditions attached to this project?

The Panel, as an expert tribunal, used its expertise to determine the most appropriate conditions. The potential conditions are based on the evidence on the record, and include commitments made by the applicant and feedback received from participants. 

Given that the Panel was required to set out conditions for this project as part of its reporting, doesn't that mean that they had to recommend its approval?

No, the Panel did not have to recommend approval of this proposed project. According to section 52 of the National Energy Board Act, the Panel was required to include conditions in its final report, regardless of its recommendation.

What was the Panel's role in Crown Consultation?

The Crown has stated that it will rely on the joint review process and the applicant's consultation efforts, to the extent possible, to meet the Crown's duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples. Other than this, the Panel has had no role in Crown Consultation. The Panel notes that the federal government has also stated that it intends to consult with Aboriginal groups after the issuance of this report.

The report recommends that cumulative effects be found likely to be significant for certain woodland caribou and grizzly populations. Why did the Panel recommend approval of the proposed project given these two significant recommendations?

Regarding certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bears, despite substantial mitigation proposed by Northern Gateway, uncertainties related to the effectiveness of that mitigation led the Panel to take a precautionary approach and recommend a finding of significance for cumulative effects as a result of this project and other projects. The Panel recommended that these adverse effects be found to be justified in the circumstances, and provided reasons for that recommendation in Chapters 2 and 8 of Volume 2. The Governor in Council will decide whether or not to accept the recommendations. 

What was the point of the hearing process?

The Panel's role was to conduct an independent, science-based, open, and respectful hearing process. The Panel gathered evidence on the record so that it could assess the proposed design and operation to determine whether the project would be constructed and operated in a safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and financially sound manner.

Did the Panel only consider the evidence that was tested during the questioning phase of the oral hearing?

No, the Panel considered all evidence on the record, which can be found on the Panel's public registry.

Why did the Panel not consider the Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Canada (Department of Fisheries and Oceans), the report called A Review of Canada's Ship-source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime — Setting the Course for the Future (Transport Canada) or Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians and Energy Development (West Coast Energy Infrastructure)?

These reports were not submitted as evidence in the proceeding and, in accordance with the rules of natural justice, were not considered.

The Panel was asked to consider the Department of Fisheries and Oceans report on humpback whales as late evidence and dismissed the motion ruling 166 [Filing A3Q8T3]. The Panel was not asked to consider the latter two reports. The Panel did consider the draft DFO report on humpback whales since it was filed during the evidentiary portion of the review process.

Why did the panel not consider the effects of this project on climate change? Or how the projects relate to oil sands development?

The Panel considered the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed project. Oil sands development was not within its mandate and beyond the scope of its review.
Detailed reasons were provided in the 19 January 2011 Panel Session Results and Decision report: [Filing A27962]

Did the Panel consider whether or not there is a social licence for this project to proceed?

No, the Panel did not consider whether there is a social licence for this project to proceed. After weighing all of the oral and written evidence, the Panel found that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project than without it. The Panel found that the project, if built and operated in compliance with the conditions set out in its report, would be in the public interest.

Why didn't the Panel recommend against the project, given the opposition that was expressed to them?

Recommendations made by regulatory tribunals such as the Panel are based on a review of scientific and technical information placed on the record during a public hearing. Tribunals do not make recommendations based on the number of letters received or on other demonstrations of public opposition or support. Rather, recommendations are based on the evidence provided, within the legal framework enacted by Parliament and applied by the courts.

If this project is built, will the National Energy Board be the regulator?

If the project is approved, regulatory oversight will primarily be the responsibility of the National Energy Board.  The Board will be responsible for regulating both pipelines and associated facilities in addition to the terminal in Kitimat.

Who will regulate the marine portions of the project?

Marine operations will be regulated by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other federal authorities such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The proponent had originally said the project would cost about $6.5 billion. Why does the Panel's report refer to the number $7.9 billion?

During the final hearings in Prince George, BC on October 16 2012, Northern Gateway said the project is projected to cost about $7.885 billion to build, including pre-development costs and marine navigation enhancements.

Given that the federal government came out in favour of this project during the review process, what was the point in continuing the review process?

The Panel was directed to conduct an environmental assessment of the project and submit a report recommending whether or not the project was in the public interest. As an independent expert tribunal, the Panel conducted an independent, science-based, public review to gain a broad perspective on all aspects of the proposed project before making its recommendation.

What would the Panel say to people who feel like you didn't really listen to their views?

The Panel designed and implemented a hearing process that encouraged and supported meaningful public and Aboriginal participation. The Panel heard local, regional, and national perspectives about the project from individuals, Aboriginal groups, and other groups who indicated that they would be affected by the proposed pipeline and shipping routes.

The Panel heard and considered all views and evidence on the record, whether written or oral, to determine whether the proposed project is in the public interest. It was important for the Panel to gain a broad perspective on all aspects of the project before making its recommendation.

Recommendations made by regulatory tribunals such as the Panel are based on a review of the evidence placed on the record during a public hearing. Tribunal recommendations are not based on the number of letters received or by other demonstrations of public opposition or support.

Sarah Kiley
Communications Officer
National Energy Board
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