Judge Halts Keystone XL for Environmental Study

NEW YORK (AP) — Environmentalists cheered a federal court order Thursday that blocks a Trump administration permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, pending an environmental review.

The pipeline would begin in Alberta and shuttle as much as 830,000 bpd of crude through a half dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris put on hold the $8 billion project, ruling that the potential impact had not been considered as required by federal law. Environmentalists and Native American groups sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.

Morris was appointed by President Obama.

Becky Mitchell, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a plaintiff in the case, said that the organization is thrilled with the ruling.

In reaction to the ruling, Andrew Black, president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) said, “Every review of Keystone XL, including those by the Obama administration, has found pipelines are the safest and most environmentally protective way to move the energy we need, and I have no doubt further review will find the same.”

TransCanada said in a statement that it remains committed to building the 1,180-mile pipeline. The company said last week it is evaluating joint ventures and asset sales, among other options, to finance its construction and has not made a final investment decision.

Calgary-based TransCanada and opponents of the project have been in a decade-long dispute that has spanned several presidencies and involved standoffs between protesters and law enforcement.

In 2008, the U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for the pipeline and TransCanada filed paperwork to expand the project. After years of legal wrangling, Barack Obama rejected the permit in 2015.

The company responded by seeking $15 billion in damages. President Donald Trump signed executive actions to again advance construction of the project in 2017.

 

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