You’ve heard of ‘the Joint Review Panel,’ now here’s what that means…

You’ve probably heard about a recommendation made by the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel in December on the proposed Northern Gateway project. Much of the coverage you saw or read probably discussed the panel’s recommendation at length, but who (or what) exactly is this panel? This blog post is all about providing a little info on what is meant by “the Joint Review Panel.”

What exactly is a Joint Review Panel?

Joint Review Panels are “joint” panels because for certain projects, a panel chosen by both the National Energy Board (NEB) and the environment minister, oversees the pipeline review process.

Robert Steedman, Chief Environment Officer at the NEB, explained that a Joint Review Panel’s role is “to determine the sufficiency of the application, hold public hearings and conduct a technical analysis of the project based on all of the evidence, ultimately making a recommendation on whether the project should be approved or not.”

You likely won’t see the term Joint Review Panel used in future NEB reviews, though. Steedman explained that “under recent legislative changes, future NEB-regulated projects will use review panels drawn entirely from the NEB.”

What do Joint Review Panels consider?

The panel gathers evidence that is put on the public record and includes an examination of the design and operation of a pipeline project.

Basically, according to the NEB’s website, the panel is trying “to determine whether the project would be constructed and operated in a safe, reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sound manner.”

What happens after a Joint Review Panel issues a recommendation?

Once the Joint Review Panel has made its recommendation, it’s up to the federal cabinet to make the final decision on the project.

“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,” said Steedman, referring to projects up for approval under the former review process.

For future project applications, that will – as we mentioned earlier – use a panel “drawn entirely from the NEB,” the cabinet will have three months to decide once the NEB’s recommendation have been made.

Want more info on the pipeline-review process? Check out these posts:

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.