Judge blocks Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Earlier this year, reports emerged that TransCanada, the developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, plans to start the construction in 2019.

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Judge Morris is the latest jurist to block Mr. Trump's initiatives under administrative-law rule, claiming that his officials have cut corners in administrative processes to make political decisions.

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

The proposed Keystone XL 1,179-mile pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Canadian province of Alberta to the USA state of Nebraska and down to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has centered on climate change concerns, as well as potential damage to endangered species and to local landowners, including native Americans, whose property would be dug up for the pipeline.

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 Alliancedeclared, "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".

A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project created to connect Canada's tar sands crude with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

"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.

The Keystone XL pipeline permit decision was largely in the hands of the State Department, by virtue of its authority to issue "presidential permits" for cross-border infrastructure projects.

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Thursday's ruling deals a major blow to President Donald Trump and the oil industry.

He said the decision also fell short in other areas, including the impact on Native American lands, and did not take into proper consideration issues like oil spills and low prices.

The US stretch of line that needs to be built would be 875 miles (1,450 km) long.

"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. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of past year. "We will continue our prayers to take action to fight the Trump administration in defense of the sacred, to protect Indigenous rights, to defend our treaty territories, and to advocate for the continuation of the next seven generations of life on Mother Earth free from fossil fuels".

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, which was one of the plaintiffs asking for the injunction, said his group felt vindicated by the ruling.

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"It's emblematic of what we're seeing with the Trump administration, which is a very fast and sloppy reversal of prior decisions.in a way that doesn't adhere to the rule of law", Prange told The Post.

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