Friday, 23 August, 2019

Keystone XL Pipeline: US judge orders halt on construction

The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska
Sandra Phillips | 09 November, 2018, 17:12

Moss ruled that a 2014 environmental review the Trump administration relied on to approve the project failed to fully take into account greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects from the pipeline oil, ignored potential Native American resources that could be affected by the pipeline, lacked updated information on the risk of oil spills and failed to consider the effect of the price of oil on the current viability of the pipeline.

Environmentalists called the ruling a "major setback" for the pipeline project.

In his ruling, the judge noted that the Department's analysis fell short of a "hard look" and requires a supplement to the 2014 supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) in order to comply with its obligations under National Environmental Policy Act.

The groups argued the U.S. State Department violated several acts in issuing a presidential permit for the pipeline without a proper environmental assessment of the changed route. At that time, the Department "relied heavily on the United States's role in climate leadership".

"The department failed to make a fact-based explanation for its course reversal, "let alone a reasoned explanation.'An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts'" in the present", he wrote, quoting judicial precedents.

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

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The pipeline is created to run from tar sand oil fields in Canada's Albert province, through Montana, South Dakota and part of Nebraska, to existing facilities in that last state. Another 1,200 miles would run through Canada.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved a permit for the pipeline in January 2017, reversing a 2015 decision by predecessor Barack Obama. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of previous year.

Neither TransCanada nor the State Department could immediately be reached for comment on the ruling.

"Today's ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet", said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth in a news statement.

But the Trump administration dismissed environmental objections as roadblocks and claimed that there were "numerous developments related to global action to address climate change" in the years since Obama-era rejection of the project.

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