Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

TransCanada's $10-billion Keystone XL pipeline project has suffered another setback after a US federal judge blocked its construction to allow more time to study the potential environmental impact.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls agreed with the groups' argument that a 2014 environmental impact assessment fell short of the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory standards.

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 previous year.

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.

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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.

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.

Morris' ruling requires the Trump administration to conduct a more complete review of the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline. "As the court has made clear yet again, the Trump administration's flawed and unsafe proposal should be shelved forever". -Canada border. TransCanada joined the litigation to defend the permit approval.

After years of legal wrangling, Obama rejected a permit for the pipeline in 2015.

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Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has centered on climate change concerns, as well as potential damage to endangered species and to local landowners, including native Americans, whose property would be dug up for the pipeline.

Also on Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump can not immediately end the program, DACA, that shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

Western Canadian Select crude oil is selling at about $18 a barrel as its discount to USA benchmark West Texas Intermediate as a lack of pipeline capacity bottlenecks production in Alberta. Construction of the U.S. leg had been scheduled to begin next year. The U.S. Obama said, was now a "global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change".

Judge Morris is the latest jurist to block Mr. Trump's initiatives under administrative-law rule, claiming that his officials have cut corners in administrative processes to make political decisions. At that time, the Department "relied heavily on the United States's role in climate leadership".

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Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the ruling a "huge win" not just for the environmental activists and tribal groups who have been fighting the pipeline, but for "anyone who cares about the rule of law and holding this administration to the facts". "That's why we keep winning in the court".

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