09/13/2016 03:36 EDT | Updated 09/14/2016 06:26 EDT

Energy East Delay Will Be 'Modest' As Feds Seek New Panel: Minister

Hope is fading that this pipeline will ever be built.

OTTAWA — Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the independent assessment of the proposed Energy East pipeline could be modestly delayed by the decision to replace the review panel board.

The National Energy Board last week recused all three panellists assigned to conduct months of public hearings on the 4,500-kilometre project due to an apprehension of bias.

A protester is manhandled at a public hearing into the proposed Energy East pipeline on Aug. 29 in Montreal. (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)

Following a cabinet meeting today, Carr said it's up to the Liberal government to appoint and assign new reviewers as soon as possible.

But it will still be the responsibility of what the minister calls the quasi-judicial, independent energy board to lay out the process, including whether the fledgling pipeline assessment needs to return to square one.

The review, which began earlier this summer, was supposed to adhere to a 21-month timeline, after which the government will make the ultimate decision on whether the $15.7-billion oil pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick goes ahead.

A protester is restrained at a public hearing into the Energy East pipeline on Aug. 29 in Montreal. (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)

Carr says he may assign more than three panellists to the Energy East review and that it's important to include linguistic, regional and indigenous perspectives.

The NEB is seeking a new review panel as one CIBC analyst says the likelihood of the project being realized has fallen from 33 to 25 per cent.

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