Information for Government Departments or Agencies

Updated: June 2013

Government departments and agencies may be involved in NEB processes to provide expertise, especially in the area of environmental assessment. Certain departments and agencies may also be involved in different arts of an NEB process and in different ways from that of other participants due to responsibilities assigned to them by government, as described below.

Tracking Applications

Government departments and agencies can follow applications before the NEB by tracking the NEB’s public registry, and can become aware of new applications by using the RSS feeds on the NEB website.

Pre-Application Involvement

For some large-scale projects, there may be a need for coordination of the NEB review with government departments or agencies, necessitating discussions prior to an application being filed. When a Project Description (PD) is filed, the Major Projects Management Office may also become more involved.

Responding to NEB Letters

In some cases, legislation may require the NEB to send out certain letters to government departments or agencies, such as to provide notification or initiate consultation. When replying to the substance of these letters, government departments or agencies do not need to apply to participate. Responses should be filed with the Board using the online filing system.

During a hearing process, if a department or agency intends to make submissions on matters beyond the substance contained within such NEB letters, it should apply for participation as described by the Board in its Hearing Order.

Applying for Participation in a Hearing Process

In July 2012, changes were made to the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act), including the addition of section 55.2.

Section 55.2 of the NEB Act sets out when the Board will allow a person to participate in the review process for a facilities application.  A person may be an individual, company, organization, or group.

A person or group wishing to participate must apply and demonstrate to the Board’s satisfaction that they:

  1. are directly affected by the granting or refusing of a project application;
  2. have relevant information or expertise for the Board to consider; or
  3. both.

This includes any government department or agency that wants to write a letter of comment, become an intervenor, or become involved as a government participant in order to comment on the application. (Beyond providing information the Board has requested as mentioned in the section above under “Responding to NEB letters”). The Board anticipates that most government departments or agencies would likely apply as a group that has relevant information or expertise.

The Board invites any government departments or agencies to apply to participate in the hearing process if they have specific concerns and can provide relevant information or expertise to assist the Board in making a decision, including providing comments on any draft conditions.

When government departments or agencies apply to participate in a hearing, they should provide information on the purpose of their department or agency, their interest in the project, and details of the relevant information or expertise they would provide on the Application to Participate form. Additional information may be provided at the discretion of the applicant.

The Board will determine on a case by case basis who it allows to participate in its processes and by what method of participation.  For further information on applying to participate in a specific hearing, contact the Process Advisor listed in the Hearing Order. For general information, refer to the Board’s guidance on its website.

Government Participant Role

Government Participant (GP) is a method of participation available on some hearings for government departments and agencies that have mandates relevant to the environmental and socio-economic assessment for a proposed project. Note that the GP role may not always be offered as a method of participation in every hearing.

The GP role is somewhat similar to the Intervenor method of participation. GP’s that are allowed to participate will be considered parties to the hearing, and will be included on the distribution List of Parties. GP’s also have the same access to support from the Process Advisor as any other party to the proceeding. 

The basic features of the GP role are typically:

  • Government departments and agencies wanting to participate as a GP must apply according to the instructions and deadline listed in the Hearing Order for that proposed project.
  • In order to reduce the amount of documentation that may be of limited relevance to GPs, parties are only required to serve the GP with information requests and requests to cross-examine the GP.
  • GPs will receive notification of all documents issued by the Board and they will be placed on the electronic repository during the hearing process.
  • It is the responsibility of the GP to check the Board's electronic repository and the public registry to ensure that it receives all pertinent information.
  • GPs must serve any documents they file with the Board on all parties.
  • GPs may ask information requests of the applicant, but may only ask information requests of other intervenors or GPs with prior approval of the Board.
  • The Board may ask questions of the GP even when the GP has not filed evidence, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the environmental evidence meets the GP's needs.
  • GPs may file written evidence.
  • The Board, applicant, intervenors and other GPs may ask IRs on the GPs' evidence (and will serve them directly on the GP). If the GP objects to answering an IR, it shall file a letter with the Board setting out the reasons for its objection. The party asking the IR would have an opportunity to respond to the objection before the Board would rule whether the IR must be answered.
  • A GP may be subject to cross-examination but only if leave of the Board is received. The Board will examine the nature of the questions, the relevance to the proceeding, and why fairness requires cross-examination of the GP before granting such leave.
  • GPs may participate in hearing conferences on environmental or procedural matters.
  • GPs will be given notice of motions pertaining to environmental or procedural matters and can make submissions.
  • GPs may question the applicant orally at the hearing. GPs may only question other intervenors orally at the hearing with prior approval of the Board.
  • GPs may present final argument.
  • GPs may comment on proposed conditions relating to environmental matters.

Any specific details on the GP role will be outlined in the NEB Hearing Order for that proceeding and may modify this procedure as needed.

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