Keystone XL pipeline faces new legal roadblock

Keystone XL pipeline faces new legal roadblock

In a 54-page decision, Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana granted an injunction to the Indigenous Environmental Network and Northern Plains Resource Council against the U.S. State Department, the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, and the TransCanada Corporation.

Although the decision does not permanently halt the pipeline's construction, it nevertheless comes as TransCanada, the Canadian company that owns Keystone, is preparing to start construction in Montana, shipping pipe to various locations throughout the state, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

The decision is a blow to Trump, who signed an executive order after just two days in the White House to grant a permit for the construction of Keystone XL and Dakota Access, another bitterly-opposed project that sparked fierce protests form native American groups.

TransCanada says it remains committed to the project despite the Montana judge's ruling that it must pass a further environmental review.

The groups argued the U.S. State Department violated several acts in issuing a presidential permit for the pipeline without a proper environmental assessment of the changed route.

In Thursday's ruling, Morris ordered the government to issue a more thorough environmental analysis before the project can move forward.

"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' judgement read.

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TransCanada also said it has no plans to abandon its efforts to construct the pipeline.

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"This really underscored the painful year that Western Canadian producers are having and it's really a function of the lack of infrastructure", Rogers said of the ruling, which exacerbates Canada's pipeline pinch that has led to record-setting US$50-per barrel discounts for Canadian crude.

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

The 1,900-kilometer-long pipeline is created to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it would then enter existing pipelines to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

Trump has touted the $8 billion pipeline as part of his pledge to achieve North American "energy dominance" and has contrasted his administration's quick approval of the project with years of delay under President Barack Obama.

Morris previously ruled against the State Department in August, saying it was obligated to "analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision". There's simply no excuse for approving this bad project.

Environmental groups who oppose the pipeline and filed the lawsuit say the ruling is a victory for advocates and a significant setback for the pipeline.

On another pipeline battlefront, the Nebraska Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week from the attorneys from the pipeline's landowners there - the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, the Yankton Sioux Tribe and the Sierra Club.

A federal judge has blocked construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

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