Perhaps the most visible and pressing pipeline conflict in Canadian history, the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has yet to see shovels break ground as the project is bound up in a web of legal challenges and political controversy. At the centre of the debate is the National Energy Board (NEB)—Canada’s energy regulator—responsible for regulating interjurisdictional pipelines. Recently, the NEB’s legitimacy has been called into question amid criticisms of being an untrustworthy, industry-captured regulator. In this thesis, I argue that the NEB operates as an institutional fix for state sovereignty, primarily through its mandate to determine if a proposed project is in the “public” or “national interest”. By aggregating benefits and localizing consequences, the NEB’s “public interest” mandate has become a means of circumventing the thorny politics of deliberative consultation—especially regarding Indigenous jurisdiction—to capture legitimacy and ensure projects proceed.
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Thesis advisor: Mann, Geoff
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