Federal judge halts Keystone XL Pipeline construction

Federal judge halts Keystone XL Pipeline construction

It had been rejected two years earlier by the Obama administration, mainly on environmental grounds.

Native tribes protest US President Donald Trump's decision to revive the Dakota Access project, and the Keystone XL pipeline.

The ruling by Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana dealt a stinging setback to Trump and the oil industry and served up a big win for conservationists and indigenous groups. It basically ordered a do-over.

In a press release, the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the staunchest opponents of the project, noted that TransCanada had not yet made the final investment decision on Keystone XL and the latest court ruling might shake its belief that it is still a commercially viable project.

He also accused the state department of having "discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".

"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", said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes in a statement.

Since its conception, the pipeline has sparked a backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples who say it violates historical treaty boundaries and would bring environmental problems.

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According to the media outlet, the court decision requiring further environmental analysis once again throws into doubt the future of the project.

The administration can appeal against the decision. No immediate comment came from the administration after the pipeline order. Environmentalists and Native American groups had sued to stop the project, citing property rights and possible spills.

TransCanada had recently announced plans to start construction next year, after a State Department review ordered by Morris concluded that major environmental damage from a leak is unlikely and could quickly be mitigated. It has become one of the most controversial oil projects in North America, but it is also one of the most important for Canadian crude oil producers hit by a significant pipeline capacity shortage.

An AP map shows the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension route.

If built, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities near Steele City, Neb. In the US, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada. The Obama-appointed judge specifically called out State's disregarding the climate change arguments against the pipeline it had made under Mr. Obama.

He said the government's analysis did not fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline's viability or include updated modeling of potential oil spills. Construction of the United States leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

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

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