Work on the Keystone XL pipeline must halt until the U.S. State Department and TransCanada have reassessed the pipeline’s environmental impact, a Montana 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, according to the Billings Gazette. The new information may indicate that the pipeline is no longer needed.
According to TheHill.com, Morris’s ruling repeatedly faulted the Trump administration for reversing former President Obama’s 2015 denial of the pipeline permit without proper explanation. He said the State Department “simply discarded” climate change concerns related to the project.
Groups questioning the Keystone XL's viability and compelling the court to order updated information include the Indigenous Environmental Network. Their lawsuit was filed in March 2017 against the State Department and TransCanada.
The pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska. President Trump approved it in March 2017.
Under Morris' order, the State Department and TransCanada must bring its supplemental environmental impact statement into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
According to the Billings Gazette, 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.
Groups which for years have fought against the pipeline cheered Thursday's ruling.
“Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana celebrate today’s victory foiling the Trump administration’s scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL,” said Mark Hefflinger, spokesman for Bold Alliance. "We’ll continue to stand together against this tar sands export pipeline that threatens property rights, water and climate at every opportunity, at every public hearing.”
The Keystone XL's approved route through Nebraska remains in question as state courts consider legal challenges.
As part of the process, the State Department last month came to Lincoln for a public meeting on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the "mainline alternative" route approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission last year.