Judge Puts Keystone XL Pipeline On Hold Pending Further Environmental Study

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

A United States judge has blocked the construction of a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the US.

The ruling is a major victory for environmentalist groups that sued to stop the project and for the Native American tribes that have protested against it for years. He included pipeline leaks, the expansion of another pipeline called the Alberta Clipper and shifts in oil markets. "Despite the best efforts of wealthy, multinational corporations and the powerful politicians who cynically do their bidding, we see that everyday people can still band together and successfully defend their rights".

The Indigenous Environmental Network, River Alliance and Northern Plains Resource Council filed a pair of lawsuits against the U.S.in March 2017 shortly after President Donald Trump gave his approval for the project to cross the U.S. After years of legal wrangling, Barack Obama rejected the permit in 2015. The State Department "simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".

"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".

In the USA, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada.

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.

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.

NPR reached out to TransCanada early Friday for comment on the ruling but did not hear back by the time of publishing. The Trump administration can appeal to a higher court.

Morris said in his decision Thursday the government's analysis didn't fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline's viability or include updated modelling of potential oil spills.

From there it would flow to Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf coast.

In 2015, on the eve of the worldwide climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

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