Montana Judge Puts Brakes On Keystone XL

The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska

The judge's order was handed down as Calgary-based TransCanada was preparing to begin building the pipeline in northern Montana. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline.

Before she was elected premier of Alberta in 2015, Rachel Notley told the Calgary Herald her government would not lobby former USA president Barack Obama's Washington on behalf of the Keystone XL project.

Judge Brian Morris, of the US District Court for the District of Montana, said construction could not go ahead until a more thorough review of the impact on the climate, cultural resources and wildlife was conducted.

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

Trump suggested that the government likely would appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Construction of the U.S. leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

"This really underscored the painful year that Western Canadian producers are having and it's really a function of the lack of infrastructure", Rogers said of the ruling, which exacerbates Canada's pipeline pinch that has led to record-setting US$50-per barrel discounts for Canadian crude.

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In 2015, on the eve of the global climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

In a 54-page order issued late Thursday, Judge Morris alleges the US Department of State committed multiple violations when it approved the construction of the $8 billion, 1,900-kilometer pipeline in 2017.

But on Friday McCuaig Boyd said Notley's New Democratic Party government had always supported the Keystone XL plan.

"The [State] Department must supplement new and relevant information regarding the risk of spills", Morris wrote. Native American groups in Montana and elsewhere fought the Keystone project as well, saying its route failed to adhere to historical treaty boundaries and would impinge on their water systems and sacred lands.

Trump claimed there would be "great construction jobs" stemming from Keystone XL, which involves the building of a 1,200 mile pipeline across six USA states in order to bring crude oil from Alberta in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The announcement followed an environmental impact review from the U.S. State Department, which concluded the pipeline's impact on the environment would be "negligible to moderate".

Though the court ruled the Trump administration did not violate the Endangered Species Act as the environmental and indigenous organizations behind the lawsuit had claimed, the court did call on the administration to update reports on potential impacts to endangered species in light of the updated information on oil spills and leaks.

Other plaintiffs in the suit included The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Bold Nebraska.

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