USA court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

USA court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Trump granted a permit for the US$8 billion (RM33.4 billion) conduit meant to stretch from Canada to Texas just days after taking office previous year.

TransCanada Corp.'s long-troubled Keystone XL oil pipeline project hit another roadblock as a U.S. District Court in Montana ruled it must wait for a further environmental review. It basically ordered a do-over.

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.

Then came policy shifts in the Trump administration. "The department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".

Becky Mitchell, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a plaintiff in the case, said that the organization is thrilled with the ruling.

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

The pipeline was being prepared by TransCanada.

The permit approval followed years of intense debate over the pipeline amid steadfast opposition from environmental groups. "TransCanada does not have an approved pipeline at this point".

Morris was appointed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama, who had refused to grant a cross-border permit for the worldwide project.

The administration is appealing numerous rulings and may appeal Thursday's decision as well.

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NPR reached out to TransCanada early Friday for comment on the ruling but did not hear back by the time of publishing.

"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", Doug Hayes, a lawyer for the Sierra Club environmental group, said in a statement as cited by CNBC.

It's meant to be an extension of TransCanada's existing Keystone Pipeline, which was completed in 2013.

The pipeline would begin in Alberta and shuttle as much as 830,000 barrels a day of crude through a half dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

The proposed USA portion of the pipeline would run about 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

It met sustained opposition from environmental advocacy groups, as well as from Obama, who anxious about the contribution it would make toward climate change.

Construction on the USA section was due to begin next year.

USA benchmark WTI little changed after the decision, trading down 0.1 percent.

The judge added that the Trump administration had not adequately accounted for potential declines in oil prices, which have been depressed since the crash of 2014, and which would have a major effect on the long-term viability of such a project. Those could alter the overall impact of Keystone XL and should have been considered by the government. It "ignored its duty to take a "hard look" at these two connected actions".

"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", Morris wrote. He also demanded that the State Department provide a "reasoned explanation" for the turnaround.

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