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U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

09 November 2018

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

A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project created to connect Canada's tar sands crude oil with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

It had been rejected two years earlier by the Obama administration, mainly on environmental grounds.

In August, Judge Morris ruled that the State Department must supplement a more thorough study of potential environmental effects of the pipeline. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities". But groups that have been seeking to block the $8bn (£6bn) project are celebrating.

"Today's ruling makes it clear once and for all that it's time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream", Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement.

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Morris particularly criticized the Trump administration for ignoring the recognized effects of the pipeline on climate change.

What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?

If built, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada, and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana to facilities near Steele City, Neb.

Shawnee Rae, age 8, among a group of Native American activists from the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in Watertown, S.D.in 2015.

No immediate impact in oil markets is seen, as the pipeline isn't scheduled to come online for years regardless of the ruling.

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What did the ruling say?

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Judge Morris said in his ruling.

The reversal required a "reasoned explanation" but instead the State Department discarded prior "factual findings", he said.

He said the decision also fell short in other areas, including the impact on Native American lands, and did not take into proper consideration issues like oil spills and low prices.

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U.S. court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline