Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Montana Federal Judge Halts Keystone XL Pipeline

The announcement followed an environmental impact review from the U.S. State Department, which concluded the pipeline's impact on the environment would be "negligible to moderate".

The judge also argued that the government's analysis had not fully determined the potential for oil spills and had failed to provide substantiating evidence or a "reasoned explanation" for overturning the Obama administration's decision to block construction.

A federal judge says the Trump administration did not consider environmental consequences of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a setback for the Trump administration and a win for environmental groups. It has become the focal point of a decade-long dispute that pits Democrats, environmental groups and Native American tribes who warn of pollution and increased greenhouse gas emissions against business groups and Republicans who cheer the project's jobs and potential energy production.

The court has asked the government to review its assessment and revise it, taking into account the changes in the oil markets since 2014, the latest in climate change, and the presence of "cultural resources" along the route of the pipeline that was planned to carry heavy oil from Alberta to USA refineries.

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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.

"These omissions require a remand with instructions to the Department to satisfy its obligations under NEPA", he wrote.

The analysis of a cross-border project like this is done by the State Department.

It was a major defeat for President Donald Trump, who attacked the Obama administration for failing to move ahead in the face of protests based largely on environmental concerns.

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"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.

The pipeline was first proposed in 2o08.

The pipeline would shuttle as much as 830,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta through a half-dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

The US stretch of line that needs to be built would be 875 miles (1,450 km) long. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of past year.

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While noting that Thursday's ruling does not completely terminate the Keystone project and that the "now ten-year battle is still far from over", Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance declared, "Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana celebrate today's victory foiling the Trump administration's scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL". "The courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists, and Native communities".

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