Judge Halts Keystone XL Pipeline For Environmental Analysis

Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal judge in Montana halted the construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline on the grounds that the U.S. Government failed to complete a full environmental analysis to determine the impact the pipeline would have on the surrounding environment.

This decision from U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris is a major setback for the TransCanada project. The ruling was made late on Thursday on a lawsuit which was filed in 2017 by several environmental groups. The District Court Judge stated that the U.S. State Department environmental analysis “fell short of a ‘hard look'”.

The Federal Judge continued to say that the analysis failed to report accurately on the greenhouse gas emissions which would impact the land resources of the surrounding communities.

The decision is a major victory for several environmental groups who have been fighting against the construction project which aims to transport oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. The finished pipeline would run 1,180 miles across Native American lands and is expected to negatively impact those communities.

The $8 billion project was originally rejected by the Obama administration in 2015 due to emission concerns and a recommendation from the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the project, but was revived by the Trump Administration in 2017. President Trump stated that the pipeline would reduce consumer fuel prices and create American jobs. Ideally, the pipeline would run oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska where it could be connected to existing lines running to Texas and other areas along the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The pipeline has been subject to protest by Native American communities and environmental groups like the Sierra Club for quite some time. Together these protesters have been fighting against the crude oil business and advocating for their rights to a clean and safe environment.

Judge Morris noted in his ruling that the U.S. Government needed to include mitigation measures and an estimate of oil spills and protection plans. Overall, he ordered that a more thorough analysis of the environmental impact the pipeline would have on the surrounding areas needed to be completed before TransCanada can continue with construction.

Though the decision is a major victory for the environmental groups and Native American communities protesting the pipeline, it is also a victory for all groups fighting against greenhouse gas emissions and working towards environmental justice. The fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline is far from over, however.

Judge Morris upon reviewing the Keystone lawsuit found that the Trump Administration did not account for how a decrease in fuel prices may affect the pipelines longevity. Further evaluation for the economic gains and environmental impact was requested by Judge Morris before TransCanada can continue construction on the pipeline.

In a statement on Thursday, the senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council Jackie Prange said “Keystone XL would be a disaster for the climate and for the people and wildlife of this country”.

In the meantime, environmental groups and the Native American community will continue advocating and pushing for the pipeline to permanently seize construction to protect the natural environment and prevent the rising of global temperatures by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.