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U.S. judge blocks construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

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.

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.

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.

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 government’s analysis didn’t fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline’s viability or include updated modelling of potential oil spills.

The ruling also blamed President Donald Trump’s administration, several times, for failing to explain why it had reversed a previous decision made by the Obama administration that cited climate change as a reason for rejecting the project, The Hill reported on Nov. 8.

Trump criticized the ruling, calling it a disgrace.

“It was a political decision made by a judge,” he told reporters outside the White House. “I think it’s a disgrace — 48,000 jobs. I approved it. It’s ready to start.”

The proposed 1,897-kilometre pipeline would carry crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Steel City, Neb.

Two other export pipelines, the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline sold to the federal government and Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 pipeline replacement, also face uncertainty.

TransCanada and the U.S. government now have the option of appealing the ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“I guess it’ll end up going to the Ninth Circut, as usual,” Trump said. “We’re slowly putting new judges in the Ninth Circuit. Everything goes the Ninth Circuit, everything.”

with files from The Canadian Press and National Observer

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