United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project created to connect Canada's tar sands crude with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

US District Judge Brian Morris found that the US government's use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, according to the court order issued Thursday.

The judge in the state of Montana said the Trump administration had "discarded" facts when it approved the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2017.

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.

It was a major defeat for President Donald Trump, who attacked the Obama administration for failing to move ahead in the face of protests based largely on environmental concerns.

NPR reached out to TransCanada early Friday for comment on the ruling but did not hear back by the time of publishing. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".

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Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval previous year of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built.

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.

Environmental and indigenous groups sued TransCanada and the State Department in March to halt the project. He included pipeline leaks, the expansion of another pipeline called the Alberta Clipper and shifts in oil markets.

The judge barred both TransCanada and the U.S. from "from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities" until the U.S. State Department completes a supplemental review.

The proposed US portion of the pipeline would run about 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Construction of the United States leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

He said the decision also fell short in other areas, including the impact on Native American lands, and did not take into proper consideration issues like oil spills and low prices.

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