Keystone XL Ruling Comes at Worst Time for Canadian Oil Industry

Ignacio Smith
November 10, 2018

TransCanada Corp.'s long-troubled Keystone XL oil pipeline project hit another roadblock as a U.S. District Court in Montana ruled it must wait for a further environmental review. "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project", the company said in an emailed statement.

US Judge Brian Morris, of the District Court for the District of Montana, noted in his ruling that the administration had "simply discarded" climate change concerns in rushing to overturn former US President Barack Obama's 2015 permit denial for the TransCanada project.

The ruling is temporary and requires the government to do a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate, cultural resources and wildlife.

"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", he continued.

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. "And I guess they'll end up going to the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit] as usual".

Construction on the U.S. section was due to begin next year.

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A United States judge has blocked the construction of a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the US.

Part of the reason behind the court's ruling was the Trump administration's willingness to ignore the pipeline's impact on climate change, which the Obama administration found "provided a significant basis for denying" the pipeline permit.

The pipeline, which would run 1,200 miles from Canada to Nebraska and carry over 800,000 barrels of oil per day, has drawn controversy since it was first proposed in 2008.

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

The decade-long saga over the Keystone XL pipeline has had more detours than the project's almost 1,200-mile proposed path from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska.

It also used "outdated information" about the impact of potential oil spills on endangered species, he said, rather than the best available scientific and commercial data.

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But it has been the subject of protests for more than a decade, both from environmentalists and Native American groups, who say it will cut through their sovereign lands.

"And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership", he said, adding that the "biggest risk" the USA faced was "not acting".

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.

"We keep killing it, and it keeps coming back from the dead", Dallas Goldtooth from the Keep It In The Ground campaign for the Indigenous Environmental Network said, as cited by CBC News.

Asked how'd she react if the case ultimately wound up before the US Supreme Court, Carmen told host John Kiriakou that she doesn't exactly have a lot of faith in the highest court, "especially stacked as it is right now".

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