Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Judge Brian Morris blocks Keystone pipeline

Judge Brian Morris blocks Keystone pipeline

A federal judge in Montana halted construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday on the grounds that the US government did not complete a full analysis of the environmental impact of the TransCanada project.

Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for Montana, who was appointed by Mr. Obama, handed environmentalists a huge victory by saying Mr. Trump's decision to sign the permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline shortly upon taking office did not have a sufficient basis. He said it would create jobs and spur development of infrastructure. The State Department initially denied the pipeline a permit in 2015, under the Obama administration.

The state department has now been ordered to do a more thorough review of the affect on issues like the climate.

In his ruling, the judge noted that the Department's analysis fell short of a "hard look" and requires a supplement to the 2014 supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) in order to comply with its obligations under National Environmental Policy Act.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday. His decision was one of scores of court rebukes to the Trump administration for decisions on the environment, immigration and transgender service in the military, among other issues, made hastily and, in the opinions of dozens of judges, without the "reasoned consideration" required by various federal laws, particularly the Administrative Procedure Act.

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He added: "The department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".

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 order came as a Canadian energy company prepared to assemble initial stages of the 1,200-mile long, cross-border project.

The judge barred both TransCanada and the U.S. from "from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities" until the U.S. State Department completes a supplemental review. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of a year ago.

"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", Hayes said.

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