United States federal court judge halts construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline

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

A federal judge issued a major ruling Thursday halting construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline until the Trump administration carries out a valid updated environmental review of the project's impact.

The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around past year and approved it, the judge argued.

The judge in the state of Montana said the Trump administration had "discarded" facts when it approved the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2017.

Environmentalists and tribal groups cheered the ruling by a USA district judge in Montana, while President Donald Trump called it "a political decision" and "a disgrace".

"This is a significant setback for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project and big win for Indigenous defenders, the environment, and for the thousands of people who have been fighting this pipeline for almost a decade".

The judge ordered TransCanada, the company behind the project, to halt work on Keystone while the USA government conducts a more thorough review of its impact. He had yet to rule on vacating the permit itself.

"These omissions require a remand with instructions to the Department to satisfy its obligations under NEPA", he wrote.

In 2015, the Obama administration rejected construction of the pipeline, saying it would detract from America's global leadership on issues related to climate change. The order came as a Canadian energy company prepared to assemble initial stages of the 1,200-mile long, cross-border project.




Morris ruled the Trump administration "jumped the gun" by pushing forward with the pipeline despite concerns over damage to native American heritage and the resulting release of greenhouse gases.

That statement falls short of a "factually based determination, let alone a reasoned explanation, for the course reversal", Morris wrote.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday.

The pipeline was first proposed in 2o08.

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. Another 1,200 miles would run through Canada. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of a year ago.

Also on Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump can not immediately end the program, DACA, that shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth, added that Thursday's ruling is "a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet". "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".

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