Work on the Keystone XL pipeline must halt until the U.S. State Department and TransCanada have reassessed the pipeline’s environmental impact, a judge ordered Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled that enough has changed since the pipeline was first approved that new information should be considered. The new information may indicate Keystone is no longer needed. Specifically, oil prices have fallen. Keystone's route has changed. And another pipeline, the Alberta Clipper, has been approved since Keystone was first proposed.
"We have received the judge’s ruling and continue to review it. We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project," a spokeswoman for TransCanada said in an email.
Spokeswoman Terry Cunha said TransCanada CEO Russ Girling would not be doing interviews.
President Trump told the Whitehouse press corps the Keystone ruling is a disgrace.
"It was a political decision made by a judge. It think it’s a disgrace, 48,000 jobs. I approved it," Trump said. "It’s ready to start and they went, I guess they’ll wind up going to the Ninth Circuit, as usual. We’re slowly putting new judges in the Ninth Circuit. Everything goes to the Ninth Circuit, everything."
Groups questioning Keystone's viability and compelling the court to order updated information include the Indigenous Environmental Network, North Coast River Alliance and Northern Plains Resource Council. Their lawsuit was filed in March 2017 against the U.S. State Department, TransCanada Corp. and the Keystone Pipeline.
The pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska. President Donald Trump approved it in March 2017.
Under Morris' Thursday order, the State Department and TransCanada Corp. must bring its supplemental environmental impact statement into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The judge ordered the defendants to take a “hard look” at:
- the financial viability of the pipeline based on current oil prices, which are lower than the project originally projected;
- the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the project, taking into account the expansion of another pipeline, the Alberta Clipper;
- a survey of potential cultural resources contained in the 1,038 acres that weren't surveyed in the supplemental environmental impact statement;
- updated modeling of potential oil spills and recommended mitigation measures.
"The Court enjoins Federal Defendants and TransCanada from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities until the Department has completed a supplement to the 2014 SEIS that complies with the requirements of NEPA and the APA," Morris wrote.