Keystone XL hits another setback as Montana judge blocks project

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project created to connect Canada's tar sands crude with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The ruling by Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana dealt a stinging setback to Trump and the oil industry and served up a big win for conservationists and indigenous groups.

The decision is a blow to Trump, who signed an executive order after just two days in the White House to grant a permit for the construction of Keystone XL and Dakota Access, another bitterly-opposed project that sparked fierce protests form native American groups.

"This is a complete repudiation of the Trump administration's attempts to evade environmental laws and prioritize oil company profits over clean water and wildlife", Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

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 USA contribution to climate change.

"Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade". The Trump administration claimed, with no supporting information, that those impacts "would prove inconsequential".

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No immediate impact in oil markets is seen, as the pipeline isn't scheduled to come online for years regardless of the ruling. "TransCanada does not have an approved pipeline at this point".

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Morris was appointed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama, who had refused to grant a cross-border permit for the global project.

Morris found that the United States government's use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

NPR reached out to TransCanada early Friday for comment on the ruling but did not hear back by the time of publishing.

The massive project remains one of the most controversial infrastructure proposals in modern American history. "As the court has made clear yet again, the Trump administration's flawed and risky proposal should be shelved forever".

Construction on the U.S. section was due to begin next year. There's simply no excuse for approving this bad project.

Morris ruled the Trump administration "jumped the gun" by pushing forward with the pipeline despite concerns over damage to native American heritage and the resulting release of greenhouse gases.

The reversal required a "reasoned explanation" but instead the State Department discarded prior "factual findings", he said.

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