Friday, 16 November, 2018

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline More
Glenn Montgomery | 09 November, 2018, 23:09

A federal judge in Montana has issued an injunction once again halting construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, saying that President Trump had "simply discarded" the environmental impact the pipeline would have.

Issued by Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, the ruling ripped President Donald Trump's State Department for blithely tossing out "prior factual findings related to climate change" to rush through the Keystone pipeline and using "outdated information" on the severe threat the tar sands project poses to endangered species, tribal lands, and the water supply.

"The Court enjoins Federal Defendants and TransCanada from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities", the court document reads, "until the Department has completed a supplement to the 2014 SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) that complies with the requirements of NEPA and the APA".

In August, Morris ruled that the State Department was obligated to "analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision" to issue a permit for the pipeline a year ago.

"This is a significant setback for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project and big win for Indigenous defenders, the environment, and for the thousands of people who have been fighting this pipeline for almost a decade".

Keystone XL would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with the original Keystone pipeline that runs south to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

The judge also argued that the government's analysis had not fully determined the potential for oil spills and had failed to provide substantiating evidence or a "reasoned explanation" for overturning the Obama administration's decision to block construction.

The ruling also blamed President Donald Trump's administration, several times, for failing to explain why it had reversed a previous decision made by the Obama administration that cited climate change as a reason for rejecting the project, The Hill reported on November 8.

"It's clear that this decision tonight will delay the pipeline significantly", said Hayes, who noted that a proper environmental impact statement of this scope usually takes about a year to complete.

The administration can appeal against the decision. A presidential permit is required for infrastructure projects that cross global borders.

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

It's meant to be an extension of TransCanada's existing Keystone Pipeline, which was completed in 2013.

TransCanada had recently announced plans to start construction next year, after a State Department review ordered by Morris concluded that major environmental damage from a leak is unlikely and could quickly be mitigated.

Environmentalists and Native American groups had sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.

USA benchmark WTI little changed after the decision, trading down 0.1 percent.

The Trump administration can appeal to a higher court. At that time, the Department "relied heavily on the United States's role in climate leadership". "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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