By Miguel Bustillo
A federal judge in Montana on Thursday blocked the Trump administration’s permit allowing the Keystone XL pipeline and barred any construction of the long-delayed project until completion of a supplemental environmental review.
Siding with environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris ruled that President Trump’s 2017 cross-border permit of the pipeline expansion by TransCanada Corp. to take oil from Alberta to Nebraska hadn’t considered all impacts as required by federal law.
The ruling requires the federal government to update a prior 2014 environmental review of Keystone XL to weigh several additional factors, including the impact of lower oil prices on the project’s viability, its related greenhouse-gas emissions and modeling of potential oil spills it could cause.
The decision threatens to further delay a pipeline that has already been blocked for a decade by legal and political opposition, and has become a rallying cry for environmentalists who want to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Trump revived Keystone XL after it had been blocked by President Barack Obama, but the project has continued to face challenges and its future remains uncertain.
TransCanada /zigman2/quotes/203758221/delayed CA:TRP +0.92% /zigman2/quotes/200192679/composite TRP +0.64% said earlier this year that it has sufficient support from customers to move forward with the project, now expected to cost around $8 billion, and that work could begin next year. But it has yet to make a final decision on whether to complete construction. It didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night.
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