Federal judge blocks Keystone Pipeline XL in major blow to Trump administration

Federal judge blocks Keystone Pipeline XL in major blow to Trump administration

The long-running saga of the contentious oil pipeline, which has been the subject of protests and national political debate, took another turn when U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sided with environmental groups late Thursday in its lawsuit against the Trump administration and pipeline builder TransCanada.

The judge's order was handed down as Calgary-based TransCanada was preparing to begin building the pipeline in northern Montana.

According to Carmen, Trump's January 2017 executive order to expedite high priority energy and infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is in clear violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

Environmentalists and tribal groups cheered the ruling by a US district judge in Montana, while President Donald Trump called it "a political decision" and "a disgrace".

Yesterday's ruling is temporary, and requires the government to do a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate, cultural resources and wildlife.

"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 Trump administration or TransCanada could still appeal the court's ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Construction of the United States leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

Energy producers in the northern nation already are struggling with a shortage of pipeline space that has hammered prices for their crude, sending its discount to US benchmarks to the widest on record in recent weeks.

The pipeline was rejected by John Kerry under the Obama administration two years earlier, citing environmental concerns.




The decade-long saga over the Keystone XL pipeline has had more detours than the project's almost 1,200-mile proposed path from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska.

The project has met sustained opposition from environmental advocacy groups, who argue the pipeline would be especially damaging to the climate because it would mean extracting thick, low-quality oil from Canada's oil sands, with tree-cutting and energy consumption in the process. "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said.

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.

Keystone would carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.

One of the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club, welcomed the judge's decision.

Since its conception, the pipeline has sparked a backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples who say it violates historical treaty boundaries and would bring environmental problems. "We're going to continue to keep going".

The judge put the pipeline on hold until the State Department conducts another review of the possible environmental impact of the project.

The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has been stopped by a federal judge in Montana - at least until there's more environmental study on its impact.

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