CALGARY, Alberta May 15 Canada should reverse
the approval process for major energy projects, making them go
through a review by the federal government before a final
decision by regulatory bodies, an official panel recommended on
Currently, major energy projects in Canada must be approved
by the National Energy Board (NEB) regulator before the federal
government makes a final decision. Critics say the process is
The Liberal government is looking to reform the way major
projects such as pipelines are assessed and approved on the
grounds Canadians have lost faith in the current system.
Environmental and aboriginal groups are mounting
high-profile protests against proposed pipelines by TransCanada
Corp and Kinder Morgan Inc.
The Liberal government appointed the panel to look into
overhauling the relevant regulatory processes and the NEB. Its
recommendations are not binding.
The panel also said the NEB should be replaced by a new
body, the Canadian Energy Transmission Commission, with full
authority to approve or deny major projects.
The government should also create the Canadian Energy
Information Agency, responsible for data and analysis, according
to the panel.
Those two bodies would conduct a detailed review of a major
energy project if the initial federal government assessment, a
one-year process, deemed it to be in the national interest, the
"We further recommend that detailed project reviews of major
projects typically be concluded within two years from time of
filing" to allow for more consultation with stakeholders such as
aboriginal groups and landowners, the panel wrote.
Last October, sources said Canada's government might curb
the NEB's power, including stripping it of sole oversight of new
The NEB's current time limit for decisions is 15 months.
Last month a separate panel appointed to look into
environmental assessments said Canada needs a single federal
authority to determine the impact of major projects such oil
pipelines and mines.
(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Steve