US Federal Judge Blocks TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline

Terra Moore KillsMany 34 holds a bottle symbolizing contaminated drinking water during a protest against the Keystone XL Pi

Terra Moore KillsMany 34 holds a bottle symbolizing contaminated drinking water during a protest against the Keystone XL Pi

Environmentalists and tribal groups cheered the ruling by a USA district judge in Montana, while President Donald Trump called it "a political decision" and "a disgrace".

He also ruled the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline's viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.

"This is a significant setback for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project and big win for Indigenous defenders, the environment, and for the thousands of people who have been fighting this pipeline for almost a decade".

While noting that Thursday's ruling does not completely terminate the Keystone project and that the "now ten-year battle is still far from over", Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance declared, "Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana celebrate today's victory foiling the Trump administration's scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL".

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Mr Hayes added.

Keystone XL roused a major environmental protest movement during Barack Obama's presidency, leading to arrests outside the White House and promises by activists to harass construction along the pipeline's route.

The US$8-billion project would help carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, about 200 kilometres east of Red Deer, to Steele City, Neb., where it could then move on to refineries in the central USA and Gulf Coast.

The administration is appealing numerous rulings and may appeal Thursday's decision as well. But groups that have been seeking to block the $8bn (£6bn) project are celebrating.

Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval previous year of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built. It has become one of the most controversial oil projects in North America, but it is also one of the most important for Canadian crude oil producers hit by a significant pipeline capacity shortage.

The pipeline construction sparked months of protests by Native Americans and activist groups, who say the project could pollute local water supplies.

The US stretch of line that needs to be built would be 875 miles (1,450 km) long. The U.S. Obama said, was now a "global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change". Morris said that review was inadequate.

- The State Department, in issuing the permit, failed to "analyze the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions" of the Keystone project and the expanded Alberta Clipper pipeline.

- The department "acted on incomplete information regarding" the potential damage to cultural resources in Indian territory along the route.

"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate", Morris' judgement read. "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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