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Removal of Energy East Pipeline review board ‘beginning of the end’: Pipeline opponent

WATCH ABOVE: The National Energy Board has announced the recusal of three people reviewing the board's hearings into the proposed Energy East Pipeline project. As Global's Andrew Cromwell reports there are differences of opinion when it comes to the future of the pipeline project.

Opinions are divided when it comes to the National Energy Board’s decision to drop all three members of its Energy East review board.

Complaints surfaced that two of the reviewers met privately with a TransCanada consultant to discuss the pipeline.

Lynaya Astephen is among those opposed to the pipeline in Saint John. She says the news is a serious blow to the pipeline.

“It’s the beginning of the end,” Astephen said. “People have been against that from the very beginning.”

The National Energy Board hearings began in Saint John several weeks ago. Now the process has been stalled but the federal government says the hearings will resume.

If approved the pipeline would move oil from Alberta cross country, ending in Saint John.

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Astephen was an intervenor at the Saint John hearings.

“They have to start right back at square one including here in New Brunswick.”

She says starting over would send the proper message.

“This opens a new door of trust hopefully and a fair process,” Astephen said. “That is what we need being so close to the end terminal here”.

That opinion isn’t shared by Wayne Long, MP for Saint John-Rothesay and a pipeline supporter.

“Those that were pro or against the pipeline had their viewpoints made and given and I thought the process was very, very good”.

He says the decision made by the N.E.B. shows a commitment to transparency.

“Sometimes perception gets in the way of reality and the fact that there was certainly a little bit of a cloud over some of the members, I think that the right thing was done,” Long said.

Energy East Spokesman Tim Duboyce says the issue is an internal matter with the N.E.B.

In a statement, Duboyce says TransCanada accepts the N.E.B.’s decision, adding, “we look forward to the sessions resuming and a respectful and constructive dialogue with Canadians about Energy East”

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There’s no word when new panel members will be chosen.