Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

United States court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline Montana Federal Judge Halts Keystone XL Pipeline
Sherry Houston | 10 November, 2018, 08:58

Shawnee Rae, age 8, among a group of Native American activists from the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in Watertown, S.D.in 2015.

The court blocked any activity furthering the construction or operation until the U.S. State Department completes a supplement to a 2014 environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The project has been embroiled in legal battles for over a decade amid challenges from both Native Americans and environmentalists.

- The department's analysis that "climate-related impacts" from Keystone "would prove inconsequential" needed a "reasoned explanation". "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said.

Delays also may send TransCanada back to oil producers or Canada's government for assurances that the trouble of trying to push ahead with the pipeline will be worthwhile, according to Royal Bank of Canada's Robert Kwan. He included pipeline leaks, the expansion of another pipeline called the Alberta Clipper and shifts in oil markets.

The judge in the state of Montana said the Trump administration had "discarded" facts when it approved the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2017. She described the pipeline as sending "thousands and thousands of jobs to Texas".

TransCanada said protective measures make the pipeline safe, but the plaintiffs argue in the suit it threatens their water supply and environment.

"If the president plans to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, I invite him to remind them that the US Constitution says that all treaties are 'the supreme law of the land, ' and this process that the XL pipeline is part of not only violates treaties in the United States but also... treaties in Canada as well", the executive director said.

"We have received the judge's ruling and continue to review it".

On Friday, President Trump called the judge's ruling "a political decision". The Obama administration stalled the project, only for Trump to revive it.

Obama appointed Morris, the judge who made the ruling.

"While definitely a major setback in terms of timing, this is unlikely to be the nail in the coffin for Keystone XL".

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. "Oil companies wanted to get it built before lack of pipeline capacity was restricting production".

Analysts say as much as 110,000 barrels a day of crude oil is now being left in the ground in Western Canada rather than being produced and sold at unprofitable prices.

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

The case is Indigenous Environmental Network v. U.S., 17-cv-00029, U.S. District Court, District of Montana (Great Falls).

"The most likely outcome is they'll take a two-track approach here and they will file an appeal up to the (San Francisco-based) Ninth Circuit, which has not been friendly ground for the Trump administration", Jauss said.

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