Keystone XL Pipeline Project Blocked

Theresa Obrien
November 10, 2018

Thursday's decision does not permanently block a federal permit for Keystone XL, a project of the Calgary-based firm TransCanada.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce USA dependence on foreign oil.

Former President Barack Obama had blocked construction on the pipeline from continuing, but President Donald Trump had reversed it in an executive order.

Yesterday's 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.

"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".

As a result, the number of people who will be genuinely surprised if the Keystone XL project-vetoed by the Obama administration and later revived by President Trump-ever sees the light of day is growing.

"An appeal of this order will likely go to the 9th Circuit [appellate court], which has not been favorable ground for the Trump administration", he said.

Jauss said a lengthy appellate process could delay TransCanada's goal of beginning construction next year.

Energy producers in the northern nation already are struggling with a shortage of pipeline space that has hammered prices for their crude, sending its discount to US benchmarks to the widest on record in recent weeks.

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The Obama administration approved the southern leg of the pipeline that began operations in January 2014, easing a bottleneck between Cushing, Oklahoma, and refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.

A federal judge has brought a halt, at least temporarily, to the construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline.

Demonstrators against the Keystone XL pipeline march in Lincoln, Nebraska, in August 2017.

He noted that the State Department denied the permit in 2015, relying on climate change information under the Obama administration, which the Trump administration simply dismissed.

But it has been the subject of protests for more than a decade, both from environmentalists and Native American groups, who say it will cut through their sovereign lands.

The State Department could try to address the deficiencies the judge indicated in the ruling, appeal the decision to a higher court, or Congress could try to pass a law enabling the project's construction.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement.

He said it could take several months before the State Department is able to issue a new environmental impact statement, putting a timeline for a decision "well into 2019".

Though the court ruled the Trump administration did not violate the Endangered Species Act as the environmental and indigenous organizations behind the lawsuit had claimed, the court did call on the administration to update reports on potential impacts to endangered species in light of the updated information on oil spills and leaks.

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