As this issue of Energy Regulation Quarterly goes to press, the federal Parliament is proceeding with legislation that would radically restructure the regulatory framework for major energy projects under federal jurisdiction, including in particular interprovincial and international pipelines. The changes proposed by Bill C-691, innocuously titled An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, are fundamental; they are the most significant federal initiative in energy regulation since at least the 1980 National Energy Program.

After nearly 60 years, the National Energy Board (NEB) would be abolished. Its replacement – the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) – would have a fundamentally different role, particularly in the assessment of whether proposed new projects were in the public interest. That threshold determination would be made initially by joint review panels under the proposed Impact Assessment Act. Further, the CER would function under the direction of a board of directors that would resemble a corporate board. Hearings would be conducted by members of a “commission”, rather than by board members.

This issue of ERQ presents a comprehensive review and analysis of these sweeping changes, which begins with Martin Olszynski’s informative overview of the proposed changes, in his lead article on “A(nother) New Federal Regime for Assessing Interprovincial Pipeline Projects: The Proposed Impact Assessment Act.” The article focuses on how the new regime would apply to proposed interprovincial and international pipeline projects.

Radical shifts in government policy rarely occur in a vacuum and are only fully understood in the context of their evolution and preceding, formative events. In his article on “The Tortuous Path to NEB ‘Modernization’”, Ron Wallace, a widely-experienced regulator and former member of the NEB, provides an informative review of developments that no doubt contributed to the proposed demise of the NEB, while reflecting concern about the implications of the scheme proposed by Bill C-69, not just for pipeline projects, but for the overall integrity of the regulatory system.

Public discourse on Bill C-69 has, not surprisingly, focused on the implications for federally-regulated pipeline projects. However, the proposed new framework reaches far beyond pipeline projects to include offshore oil and gas exploration and production projects and potential offshore renewable energy projects. Daniel Watt reviews the implications in his article on “The Impact Assessment Act, Canadian Energy Regulator Act and Offshore Energy: A View from Atlantic Canada.”

Significant changes in environmental regulation, with implications for the energy industries, also continue at the provincial level. Ludovic Fraser reviews developments in Québec in “Québec’s New Environmental Authorization Framework.”

Political and regulatory developments in the U.S. have obvious implications for the Canadian energy industry. Scott Hempling offers a thoughtful commentary on the broader political lessons that might be learned from the world of utility regulation in his article “Effective Utility Regulation: A Unifying Cause for a Divided America.”

Meanwhile, the daily business of energy regulators carries on. David Stevens reviews the Final Report of the Ontario Energy Board on wireline attachment charges.

The final offering in this issue of ERQ is Dr. A. Neil Campbell’s review of The Guide to Energy Market Manipulation, edited by one of our Co-Managing Editors, Gordon Kaiser.

  1. Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, 1st Sess, 42nd Parl, 2018.

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