Federal judge blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline

Terra Moore KillsMany 34 holds a bottle symbolizing contaminated drinking water during a protest against the Keystone XL Pi

Terra Moore KillsMany 34 holds a bottle symbolizing contaminated drinking water during a protest against the Keystone XL Pi

A USA district judge has issued an order blocking construction of the controversial transnational Keystone XL Pipeline until the State Department conducts further study of its impact on the environment. 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.

In March 2017, President Donald Trump's administration issued a permit approving construction of the pipeline, reversing the Obama administration's decision to block the controversial project.

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.

The ruling is a major victory for environmentalist groups that sued to stop the project and for the Native American tribes that have protested against it for years.

The judge also argued that the State Department failed to properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from the pipeline and the risk of oil spills.

The 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.

The 1,184-mile (1,900-kilometer) pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta, Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska.

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"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Judge Morris said in his ruling.

From there it would flow to Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf coast.

The pipeline was being prepared by TransCanada.

No immediate impact in oil markets is seen, as the pipeline isn't scheduled to come online for years regardless of the ruling.

One of those litigants in this case, the Sierra Club, cheered the decision on substantive grounds.

"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.

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

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