Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

The ruling is a victory for environmentalists, tribal groups and ranchers who have spent more than a decade fighting against construction of the pipeline that will carry heavy crude to Steele City, Nebraska, from Canada's oilsands in Alberta.

In his ruling, the judge noted that the Department's analysis fell short of a "hard look" and requires a supplement to the 2014 supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) in order to comply with its obligations under National Environmental Policy Act. But groups that have been seeking to block the $8bn (£6bn) project are celebrating. Morris was appointed by Barack Obama and began his term in December of 2013. TransCanada, the Calgary-based group behind the project, did not respond to request for comment early Friday morning.

But the Trump administration dismissed environmental objections as roadblocks and claimed that there were "numerous developments related to global action to address climate change" in the years since Obama-era rejection of the project.

The pipeline is created to run from tar sand oil fields in Canada's Albert province, through Montana, South Dakota and part of Nebraska, to existing facilities in that last state.

Although the decision does not permanently halt the pipeline's construction, it nevertheless comes as TransCanada, the Canadian company that owns Keystone, is preparing to start construction in Montana, shipping pipe to various locations throughout the state, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

"And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said, adding that the "biggest risk" the US faced was "not acting".

"The major spills that occurred between 2014 and 2017 qualify as significant".

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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.

- 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 department "acted on incomplete information regarding" the potential damage to cultural resources in Indian territory along the route.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday. It did not provide one.

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

"It's emblematic of what we're seeing with the Trump administration, which is a very fast and sloppy reversal of prior a way that doesn't adhere to the rule of law", Prange told The Post.

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