OTTAWA -- Environmental groups are calling for the Energy East pipeline review process to start from scratch following the National Energy Board's formal appointment of the new members of the review panel.

Transition Initiative Kenora has filed a notice of motion with the energy board arguing that all decisions made by the three prior panel members were tainted after they stepped down amidst questions about a potential conflict of interest last year.

The group, which filed a motion last year to have the prior panel members removed, says the members who stepped down sat on the Energy East panel for almost two years and made dozens of procedural and substantive decisions in the review process.

The notice of motion calls for the current Energy East process to be declared void, or to refer the issue to the Federal Court of Appeal.

The Energy East hearings were stalled last fall after NEB chairman 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, TransCanada (TRP.TO), to discuss public opinion around the controversial project.

The new three-member panel consists of Don Ferguson, a former senior civil servant in New Brunswick, Carole Malo, a former vice-president at engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, and Marc Paquin, a Quebec-based lawyer focused on environmental law.

The review panel will examine a proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline that would carry 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in New Brunswick.

It includes a proposal to build approximately 279 kilometres of new gas pipeline and related components in four sections, beginning near Markham, Ont., and finishing near Brouseville, Ont.