Federal judge blocks construction of Keystone pipeline

Indigenous and climate protesters have long been opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline

A federal judge in Montana has blocked construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline to allow more time to study the project's potential environmental impact. He said it would create jobs and spur development of infrastructure.

The groups argued the U.S. State Department violated several acts in issuing a presidential permit for the pipeline without a proper environmental assessment of the changed route.

The state department has now been ordered to do a more thorough review of the affect on issues like the climate.

The ruling is a major victory for environmentalist groups that sued to stop the project and for the Native American tribes that have protested against it for years.

In Thursday's ruling, Morris wrote that the State Department's analysis of potential environmental effects fell short of a "hard look" on the effects of current oil prices on the viability of Keystone, cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, cultural resources and potential oil spills.

The proposed 1,897-kilometre pipeline would carry crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Steel City, Neb.

The administration can appeal against the decision.

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"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate", he continued.

From there it would flow to Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf coast.

The proposed USA portion of the pipeline would run about 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The pipeline was being prepared by TransCanada.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Mr Hayes added.

"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".

One of those litigants in this case, the Sierra Club, cheered the decision on substantive grounds.

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