Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

A federal judge halted construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday, in a blow to the Trump administration and a win for environmental groups. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal, saying the move showed how he would overcome environmental roadblocks to spur job and infrastructure development in the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved a permit for the pipeline in January 2017, reversing a 2015 decision by predecessor Barack Obama.

Work can not proceed until the State Department completes a supplement to the environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, Morris ruled.

"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.

According to a report in The Hill, Judge Morris said the State Department didn't properly take into account the effects of global warming, the risk of oil spills and worldwide oil prices.

The pipeline is created 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.


Judge Brian Morris, of the US District Court for the District of Montana, said construction could not go ahead until a more thorough review of the impact on the climate, cultural resources and wildlife was conducted.

The proposed US portion of the pipeline would run about 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of previous year. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".

Environmental groups had sued TransCanada and The U.S. Department of State in federal court in Great Falls.

Morris particularly criticized the Trump administration for ignoring the recognized effects of the pipeline on climate change.

One of the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club, welcomed the judge's decision.

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