Keystone XL Pipeline: US judge orders halt on construction

Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline

Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline

In the USA, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada.

Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval a year ago of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built. -Canada border. TransCanada joined the litigation to defend the permit approval.

"The department's 2017 conclusory analysis that climate-related impacts from Keystone subsequently would prove inconsequential and its corresponding reliance on this conclusion as a centerpiece of its policy change required the department to provide a 'reasoned explanation, '" Judge Morris said.

Morris was appointed by President Barack Obama.

The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance, which alleges that the State Department and TransCanada violated National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, the environmental law described in the order as "the basic national charter for protection of the environment".

- The State Department, in issuing the permit, failed to "analyze the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions" of the Keystone project and the expanded Alberta Clipper pipeline.

TransCanada Corp's almost 1,200-mile pipeline has become one of the major battlegrounds in the climate change debate and, if completed, would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels per day from Canada's tar sands pits to Gulf Coast refineries in the US.

However, President Donald Trump reversed the decision shortly after taking office, saying it would bring thousands of jobs. The State Department initially denied the pipeline a permit in 2015, under the Obama administration.

"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", Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said.

"The Court enjoins Federal Defendants and TransCanada from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities", the court document reads, "until the Department has completed a supplement to the 2014 SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) that complies with the requirements of NEPA and the APA". It "ignored its duty to take a "hard look" at these two connected actions".

"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", he continued. "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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