The National Energy Board has thrown out previous rulings on TransCanada's Energy East pipeline and will start the process over from scratch.
"The new hearing panel assigned to review the Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications has voided all decisions made by the previous hearing panel," the board said in a short release Friday. "These decisions will be removed from the official hearing record."
TransCanada said in a statement that it will review the NEB's decision to determine its impact.
"Energy East remains of critical strategic importance because it will end the need for refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick to import hundreds of thousands of barrels of foreign oil every day, while improving overseas market access for Canadian oil," the company said.
Previous decisions that have been voided include:
- A determination that the application is complete.
- The list of participants.
- The list of issues to be included in the environmental assessment.
The move comes after the previous hearing panel tasked with approving the pipeline project stepped down amid questions about a possible conflict of interest last year.
Then-chair Peter Watson and vice-chair Lyne Mercier were accused of a conflict of interest for meeting privately with a paid consultant for the pipeline's backer, Calgary-based TransCanada, to discuss public opinion around the controversial project.
The new three-member panel will be headed by Don Ferguson, a former senior civil servant in New Brunswick.
The other panelists are Carole Malo, a former vice-president at engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, and Marc Paquin, a Quebec-based lawyer focused on environmental law.
The proposed 4,500-kilometre Energy East pipeline would carry more than a million barrels a day of Canadian crude from Alberta to refineries and export terminals in Atlantic Canada.
The Eastern Mainline project, for which the previous panel's decisions have also been rendered void, would run along the north shore of Lake Ontario.