USA court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

Federal Judge Halts Construction Of Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal judge issued a major ruling Thursday halting construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline until the Trump administration carries out a valid updated environmental review of the project's impact.

However, President Donald Trump reversed the decision shortly after taking office, saying it would bring thousands of jobs.

The administration overturned a ruling by the previous Barack Obama administration in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds.

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.

The permit approval followed years of intense debate over the pipeline amid steadfast opposition from environmental groups.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Judge Morris said in his ruling.

The reversal required a "reasoned explanation" but instead the State Department discarded prior "factual findings", he said.

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

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The proposed 1,897-kilometre pipeline would carry crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Steel City, Neb.

From there it would flow to Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf coast.

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

TransCanada, which had been planning the pipeline for much of this decade, had planned to begin construction next year. Construction of the U.S. leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

The court blocked any activity furthering the construction or operation until the U.S. State Department completes a supplement to a 2014 environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

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.

"Today's ruling makes it clear once and for all that it's time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream", Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement.

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