Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Friends In High Places: The NEB Continues Its Bromance With Enbridge

Last week I posted a story about the National Energy Board taking pity on Enbridge, reducing a fine levied against the energy delivery giant for the damage it caused to private property in Manitoba. Unfortunately, we now learn that this was just the start of a flurry of absolutions granted the company.

The National Observer's Mike De Souza reports the following:
For the second week in a row, politically-appointed members of Canada’s pipeline safety enforcement agency have agreed to reverse penalties imposed by inspectors against Enbridge Inc. for alleged violations, citing a lack of evidence.

The National Energy Board sent two letters last Friday, Feb. 12 to Enbridge, Canada’s largest pipeline company, confirming that it was rescinding two fines, worth $104,000, explaining that its inspector or inspectors failed to make strong enough cases to uphold the proposed penalties.

The letters were published on the NEB website one week after the regulator announced it had reduced two other separate fines, worth $200,000, down to a single fine for $76,000 for environmental and property damage.
While mere mortals (i.e., you and me) are expected to pay for their mistakes, apparently a different standard is being applied to companies with friends in high places (a.k.a., Harper NEB appointees):
In both of the two newest cases, the inspector or inspectors who proposed the fines maintained that the evidence indicated — on a balance of probabilities — that Enbridge had committed the violations by not respecting mandatory conditions of its operations, the letters said.

In one of the cases, a previous letter from the NEB alleged that Enbridge had changed design specifications, such as wall thickness and maximum operation pressure of a pipeline, without getting permission.

But three members of the NEB, two of which were appointed by the previous Conservative government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, disagreed. These board members, led by the NEB chair, Peter Watson, said that they agreed with Enbridge’s arguments that there was not enough evidence to confirm that it deserved the fines.
At a time where it seems to be increasingly common for companies to thumb their noses at financial penalties, the message is becoming clear: corporate malfeasance isn't such a bad thing, no matter what you and I might think.


  1. Hated by Canadians and under fire for Harper's slimy appointments, the NEB gives more ammunition to their firing squad.

    1. Well-said, Rumley! At the very least, the Harper hacks have to go.

  2. It's up to the Trudeau government to intervene, Lorne. At the very least they need an independent review of these hearings to discern whether there's apparent pro-industry bias on the part of the NEB whose remit, after all, is to protect the public, not the private, interest.

    1. The kind of stink coming from the NEB suggests a real housecleaning is in order, Mound.