U.S. federal court judge halts construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

TransCanada Corp.'s long-troubled Keystone XL oil pipeline project hit another roadblock as a U.S. District Court in Montana ruled it must wait for a further environmental review.

The Keystone XL pipeline permit decision was largely in the hands of the State Department, by virtue of its authority to issue "presidential permits" for cross-border infrastructure projects.

The Indigenous Environmental Network, River Alliance and Northern Plains Resource Council filed a pair of lawsuits against the U.S.in March 2017 shortly after President Donald Trump gave his approval for the project to cross the U.S.

Thursday night's ruling is the latest set-back for the Calgary-based pipeline company in its decade-long push to construct a 1,179-mile long conduit to deliver crude from Alberta's oil sands to a Nebraska junction, en route to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico.

"It also used "outdated information" about the impact of potential oil spills on endangered species, he said, rather than "'the best scientific and commercial data available'".

In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the United States contribution to climate change.

The pipeline construction sparked months of protests by Native Americans and activist groups, who say the project could pollute local water supplies.

The fight over the project has spanned several presidencies and involved standoffs between protesters and law enforcement.

"It's clear that this decision tonight will delay the pipeline significantly", said Hayes, who noted that a proper environmental impact statement of this scope usually takes about a year to complete.

Energy producers in Canada already are struggling with a shortage of pipeline space that has hammered prices for their crude, sending its discount to US benchmarks to the widest on record in recent weeks.

What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?

In 2015, on the eve of the global climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"This decision further reinforces the need for Canada to export its oil and natural gas to new global markets - ensuring fair market value for our natural resources, helping to meet growing global demand and expanding our customer base beyond the USA", she said.

"The department's 2017 conclusory analysis that climate-related impacts from Keystone subsequently would prove inconsequential and its corresponding reliance on this conclusion as a centerpiece of its policy change required the department to provide a 'reasoned explanation, '" Judge Morris said.

Then came policy shifts in the Trump administration.

Judge Brian Morris cited a finding in a previous case that "an agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, anymore than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate". "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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