Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

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.

Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for Montana, who was appointed by Mr. Obama, handed environmentalists a huge victory by saying Mr. Trump's decision to sign the permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline shortly upon taking office did not have a sufficient basis.

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

"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", said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes in a statement.

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

TransCanada, which is pushing the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.

An appeal of the decision is highly likely, as the legal back-and-forth looks set to continue in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Environmentalists called the ruling a "major setback" for the pipeline project.

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TransCanada Corp's almost 1,200-mile pipeline has become one of the major battlegrounds in the climate change debate and, if completed, would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels per day from Canada's tar sands pits to Gulf Coast refineries in the US.

The $8 billion pipeline would convey up to 830,000 barrels crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities in Nebraska and Oklahoma.

US President Donald Trump had granted a permit for the pipeline.

In 2015, on the eve of the global climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"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.

The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around past year and approved it, the judge argued.

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.

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