Keystone XL Pipeline Project Blocked

Rosemary Collier
November 10, 2018

A US district judge has issued an order blocking construction of the controversial transnational Keystone XL Pipeline until the State Department conducts further study of its impact on the environment.

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. "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said.

The court has asked the government to review its assessment and revise it, taking into account the changes in the oil markets since 2014, the latest in climate change, and the presence of "cultural resources" along the route of the pipeline that was planned to carry heavy oil from Alberta to USA refineries.

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". The Obama administration stalled the project, only for Trump to revive it.

"If the president plans to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, I invite him to remind them that the US Constitution says that all treaties are 'the supreme law of the land, ' and this process that the XL pipeline is part of not only violates treaties in the United States but also... treaties in Canada as well", the executive director said.

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He noted that the State Department denied the permit in 2015, relying on climate change information under the Obama administration, which the Trump administration simply dismissed.

The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would carry as much as 830,000 barrels of crude per day from Hardisty, Alta., to Steel City, Neb., and on through a half dozen states to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

"Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade", Keever continued.

Morris had ruled in August that the State Department had to reach a conclusion on the environmental impacts of the pipeline, but determined Thursday that the department's analysis had left out information he considered to be crucial.

Moving forward, environmentalists and Native Americans need to stand their ground and continue to fight against the Keystone XL pipeline until it's dead in the water, she told Kiriakou. There's simply no excuse for approving this bad project.

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

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

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

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.

The judge barred both TransCanada and the U.S. from "from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities" until the U.S. State Department completes a supplemental review.

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