USA court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

10 November, 2018, 09:01 | Author: Chad Warren
  • Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline

President Donald Trump called the ruling "a disgrace" on Friday.

In a 54-page order issued late Thursday, Judge Morris alleges the US Department of State committed multiple violations when it approved the construction of the $8 billion, 1,900-kilometer pipeline in 2017.

If built, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities near Steele City, Neb.

"An appeal of this order will likely go to the 9th Circuit [appellate court], which has not been favorable ground for the Trump administration", he said.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce USA dependence on foreign oil.

In 2015, on the eve of the global 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.

"And Judge Morris correctly ruled it was not in the public interest because Secretary [of State John] Kerry had found in a detailed ruling several years ago it was not in the public interest".

"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", said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes in a statement.

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U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said in an order Thursday that there needs to be further analysis of the project's potential environmental impact.

The pipeline was first proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada in 2008. "We have said our preference would be Canadian pipelines to Canadian tidewater, but at the same time this absolutely represents a number of jobs, we're fairly intertwined with the USA and Houston area, the refineries there".

The Keystone XL pipeline permit decision was largely in the hands of the State Department, by virtue of its authority to issue "presidential permits" for cross-border infrastructure projects.

The pipeline construction sparked months of protests by Native Americans and activist groups, who say the project could pollute local water supplies.

Becky Mitchell, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a plaintiff in the Montana legal action against Keystone XL, said her environmental organization is thrilled with the ruling.

A shortage of export pipeline space to carry away growing oil production in Alberta has been blamed for recent steep discounts in prices for Canadian oil as compared to New York-traded benchmark oil.

"An important dynamic here is whether the company remains committed to pursuing the project in light of ongoing regulatory delays, especially as we believe there is a strong desire to substantially complete the project before the next USA presidential election", Cox said. The State Department initially denied the pipeline a permit in 2015, under the Obama administration. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of previous year. A coalition of environmental and indigenous rights groups filed a lawsuit against the firm and the State Department in March to block Trump's permit, according to the Tribune.

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