Federal judge’s ruling delays Keystone XL pipeline

Jan Cross
November 10, 2018

Keystone XL roused a major environmental protest movement during Barack Obama's presidency, leading to arrests outside the White House and promises by activists to harass construction along the pipeline's route.

Hayes told The Washington Post that the company had already been moving equipment into place and started pre-construction in Montana and South Dakota with the intent of beginning construction in early 2019. It has become one of the most controversial oil projects in North America, but it is also one of the most important for Canadian crude oil producers hit by a significant pipeline capacity shortage. The Obama-appointed judge specifically called out State's disregarding the climate change arguments against the pipeline it had made under Mr. Obama.

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 from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it will connect to key refining points in the U.S. Midwest and U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as export terminals in the Gulf.

In Thursday's ruling, Morris wrote that the State Department's analysis of potential environmental effects fell short of a "hard look" on the effects of current oil prices on the viability of Keystone, cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, cultural resources and potential oil spills.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", said the Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.

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"There is a clear economic need for the project and we wonder whether TransCanada will choose to pursue the project with a stronger backstop from shippers and/or various levels of government", Kwan said in a note.

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 USA benchmarks to the widest on record in recent weeks. The order came as a Canadian energy company prepared to assemble initial stages of the 1,200-mile long, cross-border project. "Our government has always supported the Keystone XL project, and we are disappointed by this decision". "The Department appears to have jumped the gun".

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Judge Morris said in his ruling. "The department would have evaluated the spills in the 2014 [environmental review] had the information been available", Judge Morris wrote.

Stephan Volker, who represented the Indigenous Environmental Network called the order a win. The Trump administration can appeal to a higher court. "We will continue our prayers to take action to fight the Trump administration in defense of the sacred, to protect Indigenous rights, to defend our treaty territories, and to advocate for the continuation of the next seven generations of life on Mother Earth free from fossil fuels".

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