Brian Morris, the district judge in Montana, wrote a 54-page order addressing allegations from Indigenous and environmental groups, alleging the U.S. Department of State made several violations when it approved the $8 billion, 1,900-kilometre project.
In August, Morris ruled that the State Department was obligated to "analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision" to issue a permit for the pipeline last year.
"When the Trump administration reversed course it failed to address those factual findings," Volker said. "Under a number of different laws in the states administration has to explain the reasons why it feels it can change a decision when it was made contrary to actual findings in the past."
Volker said the Keystone XL project violated several environmental laws and emphasised that the Trump administration failed to address a key flip flop from a previous ruling by former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015.
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — TransCanada’s $10-billion Keystone XL pipeline project has suffered another setback after a U.S. federal judge blocked its construction to allow more time to study the potential environmental impact.
During Barack Obama's presidency, Kerry ruled that the project wasn't in the public interest, citing climate change issues and alleging the project wouldn't be the economic driver it promised to be.
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Volker said the judge's ruling means the project has been set aside and can't proceed — but the order can be appealed.
Greenpeace Canada climate campaigner Mike Hudema said the ruling is a significant setback for TransCanada's Keystone XL project and a big win for Indigenous groups and environmental defenders.
"This should also be huge warning sign to the Liberal government about the inevitable legal hurdles they will face if they continue to rush and curtail the Trans Mountain assessment process," he wrote in a statement. "We can't afford new fossil fuel infrastructure if we want to save the planet."
He added that halving fossil fuel emissions in the next ten years means work on any new pipelines must come to a full stop in order to avoid a "climate catastrophe."
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrate on the Dodge Street pedestrian bridge during rush hour in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 1, 2017. 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. Nati Harnik / THE CANADIAN PRESS
In contrast, Dennis McConaghy, a former executive at the Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation, said the ruling is bad news for Canada but guessed that the ruling will be looked at and reversed in a higher court.
Work to halt on Keystone XL pipeline while environmental impact reassessed, federal judge orders
"This would be very, very problematic and put even more pressure on a Trudeau government to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built," he said. "Canadians should hope that this thing is vigorously litigated and reversed."
Dallas Goldtooth has been following the twists and turns of the project for years, and the Keep It In The Ground campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network said he was flustered because the ruling was "huge news."
“This decision further reinforces the need for Canada to export its oil and natural gas to new global markets – ensuring fair market value for our natural resources, helping to meet growing global demand, and expanding our customer base beyond the U.S.”
"We keep killing it, and it keeps coming back from the dead," said Goldtooth, who is a Mdewakanton Dakota and Diñe man based in Minnesota.
Goldtooth, one of the plaintiffs represented by Volker, said if necessary he would show up at a construction site with judge Morris' ruling to stand his ground and make sure it is followed.
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GREAT FALLS, Mont. — TransCanadas $10-billion Keystone XL pipeline project has suffered another setback after a U.S. federal judge blocked its construction to allow more time to study the potential environmental impact.
The Great Falls Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Brian Morris order on Thursday came as the Calgary-based energy giant was preparing to build the first stages of the oil pipeline in northern Montana.
US court halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline
Indigenous and environmental groups had sued TransCanada and the U.S. Department of State after Nebraska authorities approved an alternative route to the one TransCanada had proposed through the state.
Judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline, says government cant ignore facts
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.
Morris said in his decision Thursday the governments analysis didnt fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipelines viability or include updated modelling of potential oil spills.
Judge Puts Keystone XL Pipeline On Hold Pending Further Environmental Study
Two other export pipelines, the expansion of the TransMountain pipeline sold to the federal government and Enbridge Inc.s Line 3 pipeline replacement, also face uncertainty.
Pipes ready for the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D., on Wednesday April 22, 2015. (Alex Panetta/The Canadian Press)