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Federal Judge Blocks Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline
In Montana, a federal judge blocked the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline construction so there will be more time to study the environmental impact that the project could have on the area. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris issued the order on November 8, right as TransCanada, which is based in Calgary, was preparing to start construction on the oil pipeline’s first sections in northern Montana. TransCanada and the U.S. Department of State had been sued by environmental groups in Great Falls federal court.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, Judge Morris doesn’t believe that the government didn’t study greenhouse gas emissions fully, how the current oil prices would impact the viability of the pipeline, or include any updated modeling of possible oil spills. The pipeline is designed so it would transport as many as 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta, a Canadian province, and areas of Montana to Nebraska-based facilities. The U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for the construction of the pipeline in 2017. When halting the work, the judge said that the analysis conducted by the state department didn’t meet the federal environmental law standards.
Judge Morris issued the order after some equipment had been making its way through parts of eastern Montana so construction crews could start work. TransCanada Corp., the pipeline owner, is reportedly planning a meeting for Tuesday, November 13, to discuss the project and the judge’s order to halt work. The pipeline is set to be 1,179 miles. The State Department prepared an Environmental Impact Statement in 2014. The Keystone XL pipeline construction is stopped until the department completes a supplement to that study.
The Keystone XL pipeline’s proposal is for it to start in British Columbia’s tar sands and then run through parts of South Dakota and Montana before it connects to the existing pipeline already in Nebraska. The company had hoped to start construction of the Montana portion next spring. The lawsuit was filed by Northern Plains Resource Council based in Billings along with other environmental groups, including North Coast Rivers Alliance and Indigenous Environmental Network.
Glendive farmer Dena Hoff, a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, issued a written statement that said, “Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law, and it’s a victory for common sense stewardship of the land and water upon which we all depend. Despite the best efforts of wealthy, multinational corporations and the powerful politicians who cynically do their bidding, we see that everyday people can still band together and successfully defend their rights.”