Court reaffirms Keystone XL’s non-pipeline construction permit invalid, again

“Constructing pipelines through rivers, streams and wetlands without analyzing the impacts on imperiled species is unconscionable."

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A federal judge in Montana upheld an earlier ruling against TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline blocking the use of Nationwide Permit 12, a key water-crossing permit. The long-delayed pipeline effectively denied dredging construction through hundreds of water crossings along its route.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris upheld his April 15 ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “did not adequately consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on risks to endangered species and habitat when it renewed the permit in 2017,” Reuters reported. This is just the latest setback for the Keystone XL pipeline, which was struck down by former President Barack Obama citing a connection to climate change, but “resurrected” by Donald Trump a few months after he became president in 2017.

Morris said the authorization of new oil and gas projects “could seriously injure projected species and critical habitat.”

“Our courts have shown time and time again that the law matters,” Cecilia Segal, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney, said. “Today’s ruling makes clear that climate-busting pipelines like Keystone XL cannot be built until the federal government does its job and properly analyzes these projects’ devastating effects on their surrounding communities and wildlife. If that analysis is based on science and facts, pipelines like Keystone XL will never see the light of day because they remain, and always will be, a dire threat to our water, wildlife and climate.”

While Morris revised his original April 15 ruling to now allow non-pipeline projects to continue, therefore, not blocking the construction of Keystone XL altogether, he did further delayed the project with his ruling to vacate Nationwide Permit 12.

“Constructing pipelines through rivers, streams and wetlands without analyzing the impacts on imperiled species is unconscionable,” Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “We’ll continue to fight to protect vulnerable species, our waters and the climate from this kind of reckless development.”

The pipeline would span from Alberta, Canada through the Midwest carrying up to 830,000 barrels-per-day of crude oil to refineries and ports on the Gulf of Mexico.

“We thank the court for protecting people, the environment and vulnerable species,” Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth, said. “We will continue to fight to protect wildlife, communities and waterways from this administration and the devastating Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”

Terry Cunha, TC Energy Corp spokesman, said the ruling “continues to delay many critical energy infrastructure projects across the U.S., including Keystone XL” and the company plans to “promptly” file an appeal.

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