A federal judge says the Trump administration did not consider environmental consequences of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a setback for the Trump administration and a win for environmental groups.
The case is Indigenous Environmental Network v. U.S., 17-cv-00029, U.S. District Court, District of Montana (Great Falls).
If built, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities near Steele City, Neb.
An AP map shows the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension route.
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 USA district judge has issued an order blocking construction of the controversial transnational Keystone XL Pipeline until the State Department conducts further study of its impact on the environment.
"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday.
The judge put the pipeline on hold until the State Department fully evaluates the environmental impact, including the project's impact on climate change, cultural resources, and potential for oil spills.
President Donald Trump called the ruling "a disgrace" on Friday. "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said. The State Department "simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".
Trump could also either file an appeal or direct the State Department to conduct a new study, said Zachary Rogers, analyst at Wood Mackenzie.
TransCanada has claimed that the pipeline would result in few oil spills by decreasing the amount of oil being transported by rail, and lower greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the amount of oil being transported by ocean tanker. He also said he expected an appeal and that his administration would soon appoint new judges to the appeals court.
The analysis of a cross-border project like this is done by the State Department. In the US, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada. The government and TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, are now legally barred from continuing construction on the pipeline until the Trump administration completes a supplemental document justifying the pipeline that satisfies the legal requirements. "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".