Federal judge in Montana blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline

10 November, 2018, 08:58 | Author: Courtney Reynolds
  • The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska

TransCanada Corp.'s long-troubled Keystone XL oil pipeline project hit another roadblock as a U.S. District Court in Montana ruled it must wait for a further environmental review.

Trump supported building the pipeline, which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change. In doing so, the administration ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires "reasoned" explanations for government decisions, particularly when they represent reversals of well-studied actions.

Judge Brian Morris cited a finding in a previous case that "an agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, anymore than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate".

Thursday's decision does not permanently block a federal permit for Keystone XL, a project of the Calgary-based firm TransCanada.

The judge also argued that the State Department failed to properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from the pipeline and the risk of oil spills. It basically ordered a do-over. "I think it's a disgrace", Trump told reporters.

"Forty-eight thousand jobs, I approved it; it's ready to start", Trump said.

The administration can appeal against the decision.

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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. Morris said that review was inadequate.

"Today's ruling makes it clear once and for all that it's time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream", Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said.

The company and opponents of the project have been in a decade-long dispute that has spanned several presidencies and involved standoffs between protesters and law enforcement.

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

"This really underscored the painful year that Western Canadian producers are having and it's really a function of the lack of infrastructure", Rogers said of the ruling, which exacerbates Canada's pipeline pinch that has led to record-setting US$50-per barrel discounts for Canadian crude. The United States, Obama said, was now a "global leader" in pressing for climate action. There's simply no excuse for approving this awful project. According to the department, "there are no substantial changes or significant new information which would affect the continued reliability" of the report. Add Trump Administration as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Trump Administration news, video, and analysis from ABC News. The Trump administration claimed, with no supporting information, that those impacts "would prove inconsequential", Morris wrote.

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, which was one of the plaintiffs asking for the injunction, said his group felt vindicated by the ruling.

The ruling deals a major setback for TransCanada and could possibly delay the construction of the $8 billion, 1,180 mile pipeline.

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