Judge blocks Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline

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A USA federal Judge ordered a halt of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline 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. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline.

"We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", TransCanada spokesperson Grady Semmens said.

Noting that former US president Barack Obama had appointed Morris to the court, McConaghy said opponents of the pipeline had "shopped (the case) as best they could to find a pliant federal court judge who had some nexus to the project".

Judge Brian Morris noted in his ruling that the law requires the Trump administration to "provide a "reasoned explanation" for claiming in its analysis that despite the Obama administration's previous findings, "climate-related impacts from Keystone. would prove inconsequential".

The judge added that the Trump administration had not adequately accounted for potential declines in oil prices, which have been depressed since the crash of 2014, and which would have a major effect on the long-term viability of such a project. The Obama administration stalled the project, only for Trump to revive it.

Construction of the United States leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

Western Canadian Select crude oil is selling at about $18 a barrel as its discount to USA benchmark West Texas Intermediate as a lack of pipeline capacity bottlenecks production in Alberta.

In 2015, the Obama administration rejected construction of the pipeline, saying it would detract from America's global leadership on issues related to climate change.

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

Moving forward, environmentalists and Native Americans need to stand their ground and continue to fight against the Keystone XL pipeline until it's dead in the water, she told Kiriakou.

It also used "outdated information" about the impact of potential oil spills on endangered species, he said, rather than the best available scientific and commercial data.

With the Keystone XL once again on hold and a judge ordering the Trump administration to redo the reasoning behind its approval, the pipeline's future remains as uncertain as ever.

Thursday night's ruling is the latest set-back for the Calgary-based pipeline company in its decade-long push to construct a 1,179-mile long conduit to deliver crude from Alberta's oil sands to a Nebraska junction, en route to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club, welcomed the judge's decision.

Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the ruling a "huge win" not just for the environmental activists and tribal groups who have been fighting the pipeline, but for "anyone who cares about the rule of law and holding this administration to the facts".

The State Department could try to address the deficiencies the judge indicated in the ruling, appeal the decision to a higher court, or Congress could try to pass a law enabling the project's construction.