Judge Brian Morris blocks Keystone pipeline

Federico Mansilla
Noviembre 9, 2018

Environmental and indigenous groups sued TransCanada and the State Department in March to halt the project.

But it has been the subject of protests for more than a decade, both from environmentalists and Native American groups, who say it will cut through their sovereign lands.

Work can not proceed until the State Department completes a supplement to the environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, Morris ruled.

Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval a year ago of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built. He had yet to rule on vacating the permit itself.

Moss ruled that a 2014 environmental review the Trump administration relied on to approve the project failed to fully take into account greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects from the pipeline oil, ignored potential Native American resources that could be affected by the pipeline, lacked updated information on the risk of oil spills and failed to consider the effect of the price of oil on the current viability of the pipeline.

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

In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the United States contribution to climate change.

Then came policy shifts in the Trump administration.

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

The pipeline was first proposed in 2o08.

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

The privately financed pipeline is projected to stretch 1,179-miles (1,897km) from the oil sands of Canada's Alberta province, through Montana and South Dakota, to rejoin an existing pipeline to Texas.

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

"Today's ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet", said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth in a news statement.

The administration can appeal against the decision.

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