US court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Author: 
AFP
ID: 
1541748752221429400
Fri, 2018-11-09 07:28

WASHINGTON: A federal judge on Thursday halted construction of
the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that President Donald
Trump’s administration had failed to adequately explain why it
had lifted a ban on the project.
The ruling by Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the
District of Montana dealt a stinging setback to Trump and the oil
industry and served up a big win for conservationists and
indigenous groups.
Trump granted a permit for the $8 billion conduit meant to stretch
from Canada to Texas just days after taking office last year. He
said it would create jobs and spur development of
infrastructure.
In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then
president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the
pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the US
contribution to climate change.
The analysis of a cross-border project like this is done by the
State Department.
The same environmental analysis that the department carried out
before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department
turned around last year and approved it, the judge argued.
“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,”
Morris wrote.
He added: “The department instead simply discarded prior factual
findings related to climate change to support its course
reversal.”
The judge also argued that the State Department failed to properly
account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts
of greenhouse gases from the pipeline and the risk of oil
spills.
Thursday’s ruling is temporary, and requires the government to do
a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate,
cultural resources and wildlife. The Trump administration can
appeal to a higher court.
The pipeline is designed to run from tar sand oil fields in
Canada’s Albert province, through Montana, South Dakota and part
of Nebraska, to existing facilities in that last state.
From there it would flow to Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf
coast.
The US stretch of the line would be 1,450 kilometers long. The rest
is in Canada.
The pipeline was being prepared by TransCanada. Construction of the
US leg had been scheduled to begin next year.
Environmental and indigenous groups sued TransCanada and the State
Department in March to halt the project.
One of the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club, welcomed the Morris’
ruling.
“Today’s ruling makes it clear once and for all that it’s
time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream,”
Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement.
“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.”

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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
US court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline