Judge Puts Keystone XL Pipeline On Hold Pending Further Environmental Study

The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska

A federal judge in Montana halted construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday on the grounds that the US government did not complete a full analysis of the environmental impact of the TransCanada project.

Judge Brian Morris, of the US District Court for the District of Montana, said construction could not go ahead until a more thorough review of the impact on the climate, cultural resources and wildlife was conducted.

Trump granted a permit that allowed energy firm TransCanada to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline shortly after taking office.

Although the decision does not permanently halt the pipeline's construction, it nevertheless comes as TransCanada, the Canadian company that owns Keystone, is preparing to start construction in Montana, shipping pipe to various locations throughout the state, the Great Falls Tribune reports. TransCanada, the Calgary-based group behind the project, did not respond to request for comment early Friday morning.

Morris wrote in his ruling that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis "fell short of a "hard look" at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.

The ruling is a major victory for environmentalist groups that sued to stop the project and for the Native American tribes that have protested against it for years.

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In 2008, the U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for the pipeline and TransCanada filed paperwork to expand the project. His decision was one of scores of court rebukes to the Trump administration for decisions on the environment, immigration and transgender service in the military, among other issues, made hastily and, in the opinions of dozens of judges, without the "reasoned consideration" required by various federal laws, particularly the Administrative Procedure Act.

The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around a year ago and approved it, the judge argued.

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.

The $8 billion pipeline would convey up to 830,000 barrels crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities in Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Morris wrote Thursday. Construction of the United States leg had been scheduled to begin next year.

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