US judge blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline
US judge blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline
Federal judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction
09 November, 2018, 19:08
A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project created to connect Canada's tar sands crude with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls agreed with the groups' argument that a 2014 environmental impact assessment fell short of the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory standards.
Trump granted a permit for the US$8 billion (RM33.4 billion) conduit meant to stretch from Canada to Texas just days after taking office a year ago.
But the Trump administration dismissed environmental objections as roadblocks and claimed that there were "numerous developments related to global action to address climate change" in the years since Obama-era rejection of the project.
Trump supported building the pipeline, which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change.
Yesterday'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.
Doug Hayes, a lawyer for the Sierra Club environmental group, said the ruling made clear it was it was time to give up on the "Keystone XL pipe dream".
About 250 miles of pipeline would be buried across six counties in Montana.
TransCanada, which is pushing the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".
Environmentalists called the ruling a "major setback" for the pipeline project.
"And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said, adding that the "biggest risk" the USA faced was "not acting".
"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday.
He also ruled the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline's viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.
In 2008, the U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for the pipeline and TransCanada filed paperwork to expand the project.
The $8 billion pipeline would convey up to 830,000 barrels crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities in Nebraska and Oklahoma.
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