Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana issued the order just as the TransCanada company was moving materials to begin building its end of the $8 billion pipeline in the northern part of the state early next year, reported the Great Falls Tribune.
The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around previous year and approved it, the judge argued. The Obama-appointed judge specifically called out State's disregarding the climate change arguments against the pipeline it had made under Mr. Obama. Environmentalists and Native American groups sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.
- The State Department, in issuing the permit, failed to "analyze the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions" of the Keystone project and the expanded Alberta Clipper pipeline.
"The Court enjoins Federal Defendants and TransCanada from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities", the court document reads, "until the Department has completed a supplement to the 2014 SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) that complies with the requirements of NEPA and the APA".
In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the USA contribution to climate change.
The US$8-billion project would help carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, about 200 kilometres east of Red Deer, to Steele City, Neb., where it could then move on to refineries in the central USA and Gulf Coast.
"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. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".
Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce US dependence on foreign oil. It "ignored its duty to take a "hard look" at these two connected actions". He also demanded that the State Department provide a "reasoned explanation" for the turnaround.
"It's emblematic of what we're seeing with the Trump administration, which is a very fast and sloppy reversal of prior decisions.in a way that doesn't adhere to the rule of law", Prange told The Post.