Judges Put A Halt Some Of The Largest Pipeline Projects, Derailing Trump Campaign Promise

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  • Federal judges put a halt Monday to the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL, both of which received support from President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign when he promoted energy production. 
  • The companies behind a separate project — Atlantic Coast Pipeline — abandoned the pipeline on the same day after legal battles ballooned the price of the natural gas project, which was designed to carry gas across three states in the South. 
  • The bad news for the energy industry comes despite Trump’s insistence during his 2016 campaign that he would make getting permits and licenses for such projects easier and less burdensome. 

Three of the largest oil and gas projects in the country are on hold after federal courts effectively stopped two pipelines backed by President Donald Trump from pumping oil Monday, and the energy companies behind another abandoned their project altogether.

The U.S. Supreme Court supported a lower court’s ruling Monday that blocked a crucial environmental permit that Keystone XL pipeline needed to transport oil across the country. A federal judge made a similar decision Monday shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was meant to ship oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy also announced Monday that they were abandoning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline designed to funnel liquefied gas about 600 miles across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, NBC News reported.

The energy companies cited significant legal barriers and demonstrations against the project for the decision. The price of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline early doubled to $8 billion from its original estimate of about $4.5 billion. (RELATED: Federal Judge Orders Shutdown Of Dakota Access Pipeline, Citing Need For Environmental Review)

Trump signed a pair of executive orders in 2017 giving Keystone and Dakota Access the go-ahead after former President Barack Obama decided to nix both projects, citing concerns that the pipelines would hurt the U.S.’ image as a clean energy leader.

All three projects were expected to benefit from Trump’s deregulations. The president rolled back more than 90 environmental rules and regulations, The New York Times reported in December. The NYT relied on an analysis from Harvard Law School, and other sources to track Trump’s deregulation initiatives during his time in office.

Trump had eliminated 25 environmental rules as of January, as well as 19 that regulate energy producers’ ability to drill and extract oil and gas, according to the NYT.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: President Donald Trump speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House on July 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting a "Salute to America" celebration that includes flyovers by military aircraft and a large fireworks display. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it,” Trump said in 2017 during a meeting with auto executives.

“But it’s out of control, and we’re going to make it a very short process. And we’re going to either give you your permits, or we’re not going to give you your permits. But you’re going to know very quickly. And generally speaking, we’re going to be giving you your permits,” he said, referring to fast-tracking permits.

SCOTUS’ decision on the Keystone pipeline Monday contained some good news for the Trump administration’s fast-track approach. The high court’s decision invalidated a lower court ruling in May requiring new projects to undergo a long permitting and regulatory process before they can be built over bodies of water. While excluding Keystone, SCOTUS’s decision may allow other projects to move forward.

TC Energy is delaying work on sections of the 1,200-mile Keystone pipeline but will not give up entirely on the project, spokesman Terry Cunha said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.

“TC Energy remains committed to the future of this project. We will continue to evaluate our 2020 U.S. scope,” he told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, has pushed back against U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision to require the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline.

“We believe that the ruling issued this morning from Judge Boasberg is not supported by the law or the facts of the case,” Energy Transfer Partners said in a press statement Monday on its website.

“We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow,” the statement added.

The Dakota Access Pipeline carries more than half-a million barrels of oil across the country, representing roughly 40% of North Dakota’s daily productive capacity before the pandemic resulted in an oil crunch and economic destruction, the Bismarck Tribune reported Monday.

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