Courts Rule Against the Keystone XL Pipeline—Again


In a win for the climate, environment, and local communities, the dirty tar sands pipeline now faces even more delays and uncertainty.

The Keystone XL pipeline faced yet another setback on Friday when a federal judge reaffirmed that TransCanada cannot continue any pre-construction field activities until the federal government revises its environmental review—further delaying the controversial project. “Keystone XL cannot be built unless and until the Trump administration complies with the law,” says Jackie Prange, a senior attorney at NRDC, which, with partners, sued the U.S. Department of State for its March 2017 decisionto issue a U.S.–Canada cross-border permit for KXL without doing a complete, current review of its environmental and health threats.

A federal court had ruled this August that the State Department had violated bedrock environmental laws when it fast-tracked an environmental review and approved the pipeline’s new Nebraska route. That effectively blocked any construction until the government completes a more robust Environmental Impact Statement—and Friday’s ruling confirmed that the August decision includes all pre-construction as well.

The fight against the pipeline is now a decade old. If built, Keystone XL would carry up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands oil—one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources—across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries. Its hefty carbon footprint also represents a significant step backward from our clean energy goals. “This decision is one more victory for the rule of law over this reckless and risky project,” Prange says.

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