Judge Orders Environmental Review Of Keystone Pipeline

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A federal judge has ordered a full environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline route, a decision that will likely slow construction efforts and serve as a blow to the Trump administration.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ordered the State Department on Wednesday to conduct an environmental review of a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline, determining the State Department was required to “analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision” after granting a permit for the pipeline in 2017. The ruling by Judge Morris — an Obama appointee to the United States District Court for the District of Montana — was a big win for environmentalists who have waged war in the courtroom.

Owned and operated by TransCanada, the Keystone pipeline system already stretches across the midwestern U.S. Keystone XL is a proposed crude oil pipeline that would begin in Steele City, Nebraska and reach all the way into Alberta, Canada. Former President Barack Obama rejected the project in 2015, arguing it would increase emissions and not add much to the economy.

However, President Donald Trump, someone who campaigned heavily on the issue, immediately green-lighted the proposal upon entering office. An official with the State Department signed a so-called presidential permit that allowed the pipeline to move forward. (RELATED: Greens File Lawsuit To Stop The Keystone XL Pipeline From Being Built)

Undeterred, a litany of environmental groups initiated a lawsuit against Keystone in March 2017, arguing the Republican president’s decision was unlawful.

Judge Morris’ ruling was “a rejection of the Trump administration’s attempt to flout the law and force Keystone XL on the American people,” stated Jackie Prange, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a major environmental organization. Prange’s group is joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and others in their judicial fight.

Nevertheless, TransCanada hopes to begin construction in the second quarter of 2019.

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