Judge Puts Keystone XL Pipeline On Hold Pending Further Environmental Study

10 November, 2018, 09:01 | Author: Kristi Owen
  • Terra Moore KillsMany 34 holds a bottle symbolizing contaminated drinking water during a protest against the Keystone XL Pi

A Montana district court judge has ordered the suspension of construction work on the Keystone XL pipeline on the grounds that violations were made in the government's environmental review.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls agreed with the groups' argument that a 2014 environmental impact assessment fell short of the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory standards. Trump signed memoranda approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines early in his presidency in January 2017, promising the projects would provide jobs and stimulate the economy. "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", the company said in an emailed statement.

"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.

McConaghy said that, most likely, "TransCanada has been working steadily through the night with the Trump administration to decide what they're going to tactically do".

The court's ruling comes a little more than a month after TransCanada said that construction of the pipeline could begin as soon as next year.

Energy producers in the northern nation 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.

The major oil pipeline proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. would link Alberta's oilsands to refineries and overseas markets on the Texas Gulf Coast.

US President Donald Trump's push for the Keystone XL Pipeline is in direct violation of treaties established to protect lands belonging to indigenous peoples, Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, told Sputnik.


In 2015, the Obama administration rejected construction of the pipeline, saying it would detract from America's global leadership on issues related to climate change.

"And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said, adding that the "biggest risk" the US faced was "not acting".

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.

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

Though the court ruled the Trump administration did not violate the Endangered Species Act as the environmental and indigenous organizations behind the lawsuit had claimed, the court did call on the administration to update reports on potential impacts to endangered species in light of the updated information on oil spills and leaks. "That's why we keep winning in the court".

The Trudeau government says it's disappointed that a US judge has halted progress on building the $10-billion Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

"Approval of this project was always about a race against time", said Keith Benes, a former senior State Department lawyer who oversaw the project's environmental review under the last administration.

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