Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

But a federal judge in Montana ruled Thursday that the Trump administration's reversal ignored information about the pipeline's environmental impact to support reversing the Obama administration's decision.

TransCanada says it remains committed to the project despite the Montana judge's ruling that it must pass a further environmental review.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the Trump administration's projections for the pipeline's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, potential for oil spills and impact on the local Native American community fell short, the Montana-based Great Falls Tribune reports.

The judge ordered TransCanada, the company behind the project, to halt work on Keystone while the United States government conducts a more thorough review of its impact.

Then came policy shifts in the Trump administration.

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"An appeal of this order will likely go to the 9th Circuit [appellate court], which has not been favorable ground for the Trump administration", he said.

Becky Mitchell, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a plaintiff in the case, noted in a statement celebrating the ruling that the decision was "as good a ruling as we could have hoped for", as it "sends TransCanada back to the drawing board" on the pipeline's construction. "We have said our preference would be Canadian pipelines to Canadian tidewater, but at the same time this absolutely represents a number of jobs, we're fairly intertwined with the USA and Houston area, the refineries there".

In 2015, on the eve of the worldwide 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. The pipeline would link up with an existing infrastructure in Nebraska, allowing 800,000 barrels of petroleum to flow to the Gulf refineries.

TransCanada said in a statement to BNN Bloomberg that the company is reviewing the US judge's ruling on Keystone XL. "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said.

He said it could take several months before the State Department is able to issue a new environmental impact statement, putting a timeline for a decision "well into 2019".

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Stephan Volker, who represented the Indigenous Environmental Network called the order a win.

The US$8-billion project would help carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, about 200 kilometres east of Red Deer, to Steele City, Neb., where it could then move on to refineries in the central USA and Gulf Coast.

The judge put the pipeline on hold until the State Department conducts another review of the possible environmental impact of the project.

On another pipeline battlefront, the Nebraska Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week from the attorneys from the pipeline's landowners there - the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, the Yankton Sioux Tribe and the Sierra Club.

Keystone XL roused a major environmental protest movement during Barack Obama's presidency, leading to arrests outside the White House and promises by activists to harass construction along the pipeline's route.

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