Keystone XL Pipeline: US judge orders halt on construction

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

The decade-long saga over the Keystone XL pipeline has had more detours than the project's almost 1,200-mile proposed path from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska.

But it has been the subject of protests for more than a decade, both from environmentalists and Native American groups, who say it will cut through their sovereign lands.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce US dependence on foreign oil. "I think it's a disgrace", he told reporters at the White House.

A presidential permit is required for infrastructure projects that cross worldwide borders.

The administration overturned a ruling by the previous Barack Obama administration in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds.

Trump claimed there would be "great construction jobs" stemming from Keystone XL, which involves the building of a 1,200 mile pipeline across six U.S. states in order to bring crude oil from Alberta in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

"And Judge Morris correctly ruled it was not in the public interest because Secretary [of State John] Kerry had found in a detailed ruling several years ago it was not in the public interest". "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said.

Construction of the U.S. leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around past year and approved it, the judge argued.

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In his ruling this week, Morris said the Trump administration had disregarded facts established by experts during the Obama era about potential climate-related impacts from Keystone XL. "The department would have evaluated the spills in the 2014 [environmental review] had the information been available", Judge Morris wrote.

"The [State] Department must supplement new and relevant information regarding the risk of spills", Morris wrote.

TransCanada said in a statement that it was reviewing the judge's 54-page decision.

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

"It's emblematic of what we're seeing with the Trump administration, which is a very fast and sloppy reversal of prior decisions.in a way that doesn't adhere to the rule of law", Prange said.

Morris' order does not permanently extinguish hopes Keystone XL will go ahead, but it will require the administration to come up with a better explanation as to why it should proceed.

The State Department could try to address the deficiencies the judge indicated in the ruling, appeal the decision to a higher court, or Congress could try to pass a law enabling the project's construction.

The ruling in Montana against Keystone XL is "eerily similar" to the Federal Court of Appeals ruling against the Trans Mountain pipeline, according to Chris Bloomer, Canadian Energy Pipelines Association president and CEO.

A shortage of export pipeline space to carry away growing oil production in Alberta has been blamed for recent steep discounts in prices for Canadian oil as compared to New York-traded benchmark oil.

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