Supreme Court upholds block on Keystone XL Pipeline construction

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The Supreme Court on Monday denied the Trump administration’s request to allow for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to continue, upholding a lower court’s decision to cancel a key permit on environmental grounds.

The order does allow for similar pipeline projects that were authorized under the same water crossing permit, known as Nationwide Permit 12, but were blocked by the Montana judge’s decision to continue.

No reason for its decision was given nor were dissenters named, as is the custom for such orders but it states the hold on the Keystone pipeline will be in place while the case proceeds through the appeals process.

“Today’s ruling makes clear that the builders of Keystone Xl can’t rely on a flawed, rubber-stamped permit to force the project’s construction through our wetlands, streams and rivers,” Cecilia Segal, an attorney at the National Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “It’s a resounding victory for the communities and imperiled species living along this pipeline’s proposed route.”

In April, U.S. Chief District Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of a coalition of conservation and landowner groups, stating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had unlawfully approved Nationwide Permit 12 to TC Energy’s Keystone XL project by failing to properly analyze its effects on endangered species as necessitated by the Endangered Species Act. His ruling also blocked the construction of other pipeline projects.

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In May, Morris upheld most of his original decision but narrowed it to allow some projects to proceed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit then ruled late May to leave the hold in place pending the appeal is granted.

Upon completion, Keystone XL would to deliver 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Canadian city of Hardisty, Alberta, to Steel City, Neb., where it would connect with TC Energy’s existing infrastructure to carry it to Gulf Coast refiners.

The Sierra Club, which is a U.S. environmental organization that has been battling against the pipeline project, said Keystone XL is also facing a series of roadblocks, including other legal challenges, a low oil market and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden‘s promise to scrap the project if elected.

“More than 10 years after it was proposed, Keystone XL is as far as it’s ever been from being completed,” said Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. “We’re glad to see the court acknowledge that the Trump administration is not above the law and cannot just ignore critical environmental protections in pursuit of building this dangerous tar sands pipeline.”

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