Keystone XL Pipeline: US judge orders halt on construction

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.

In a 54-page order issued late Thursday, Judge Morris alleges the US Department of State committed multiple violations when it approved the construction of the $8 billion, 1,900-kilometer pipeline in 2017.

Stephan Volker, an attorney for the complainants', called Morris' ruling "a landmark".

If built, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities near Steele City, Neb.

Morris said in his decision Thursday the government's analysis didn't fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline's viability or include updated modelling of potential oil spills. "The courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists, and Native communities".

After years of legal wrangling, Obama rejected a permit for the pipeline in 2015.

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

Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has centered on climate change concerns, as well as potential damage to endangered species and to local landowners, including native Americans, whose property would be dug up for the pipeline.

More news: Theresa May ‘strikes secret Brexit deal over customs union’

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.

Environmental groups who oppose the pipeline and filed the lawsuit say the ruling is a victory for advocates and a significant setback for the pipeline.

Also on Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump can not immediately end the program, DACA, that shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Construction of the U.S. leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

"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.

McTeague believes Keystone XL has support across the political spectrum in the United States, but it only takes one judge to pause the project.

"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate", Morris wrote.

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.

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