Keystone XL pipeline faces new legal roadblock

Muriel Hammond
November 10, 2018

The ruling out of U.S. Court in Montana on Thursday dealt a major setback to TransCanada Corp and could possibly delay the construction of the $8 billion, 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline.

Morris ruled the Trump administration "jumped the gun" by pushing forward with the pipeline despite concerns over damage to native American heritage and the resulting release of greenhouse gases.

Under President Trump, the State Department wrote "there have been numerous developments related to global action to address climate change, including announcements by many countries of their plans to do so" since the Obama administration's decision two years earlier.

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.

The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta and Montana to facilities in Nebraska.

A federal judge blocked construction on the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday.

"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.

Reacting to the news on Friday, President Donald Trump called the ruling a "political" decision that was a "disgrace".


The company building the pipeline, TransCanada, said in a statement they are reviewing the ruling but they "remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project".

Trump could also either file an appeal or direct the State Department to conduct a new study, said Zachary Rogers, analyst at Wood Mackenzie. "Simultaneously, the State Department will start work on a revised environmental analysis".

The state department has now been ordered to do a more thorough review of the effect on issues like the climate.

The judge also argued that the government's analysis had not fully determined the potential for oil spills and had failed to provide substantiating evidence or a "reasoned explanation" for overturning the Obama administration's decision to block construction.

The proposed US portion of the pipeline would run about 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".

TransCanada, which had been planning the pipeline for much of this decade, had planned to begin construction next year.

"This is a win for Lakota, the Oceti Sakowin and other Tribal Nations, for the water, and for the sacredness of Mother Earth", Tom Goldtooth, executive director for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in astatement. "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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