Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal judge has blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that United States' President Donald Trump's administration had failed to adequately explain why it had lifted a ban on the project.

Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval previous year of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built.

Environmental groups had sued TransCanada and the U.S. Department of State in federal court in Great Falls.

Morris found that the U.S. 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.

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.

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The 1,900-kilometer-long pipeline is created to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it would then enter existing pipelines to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. "As the court has made clear yet again, the Trump administration's flawed and unsafe proposal should be shelved forever".

According to a report in The Hill, Judge Morris said the State Department didn't properly take into account the effects of global warming, the risk of oil spills and worldwide oil prices.

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

Trump hit back against the court's decision on Friday, saying it was politically motivated and a "disgrace". A presidential permit is required for infrastructure projects that cross worldwide borders.

The pipeline construction sparked months of protests by Native Americans and activist groups, who say the project could pollute local water supplies.

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It's meant to be an extension of TransCanada's existing Keystone Pipeline, which was completed in 2013. In the USA, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada.

US benchmark WTI little changed after the decision, trading down 0.1 percent.

- The State Department, in issuing the permit, failed to "analyze the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions" of the Keystone project and the expanded Alberta Clipper pipeline.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Mr Hayes added. He ordered the department to complete a full review.

"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", he continued.

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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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