USA court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Environmental and indigenous groups sued TransCanada and the State Department in March to halt the project.

Shawnee Rae, age 8, among a group of Native American activists from the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in Watertown, S.D.in 2015.

"The department's 2017 conclusory analysis that climate-related impacts from Keystone subsequently would prove inconsequential and its corresponding reliance on this conclusion as a centerpiece of its policy change required the department to provide a 'reasoned explanation, '" Judge Morris said.

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

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.

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

"These omissions require a remand with instructions to the Department to satisfy its obligations under NEPA", he wrote.

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The administration overturned a ruling by the previous Barack Obama administration in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds. At that time, the Department "relied heavily on the United States's role in climate leadership".

The 1,179-mile Keystone XL Pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana over 875 miles to existing pipeline facilities in Nebraska, then on to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

"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. Another 1,200 miles would run through Canada.

However, President Donald Trump reversed the decision shortly after taking office, saying it would bring thousands of jobs.

Morris particularly criticized the Trump administration for ignoring the recognized effects of the pipeline on climate change.

No immediate impact in oil markets is seen, as the pipeline isn't scheduled to come online for years regardless of the ruling.

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