Late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana temporarily blocked President Trump's order approving the Keystone XL pipeline and issued an injunction against construction of the $8 billion project, ruling that the Trump administration had failed to justify its approval for the permit. This is victory for environmentalists and Native American groups, and a setback for pipeline owner TransCanada, other oil interests, and Trump.
Before he will allow construction to commence, Morris wrote in his 54-page order, the administration will have to complete a more thorough review of the project's impact on climate change, Native American resources, and how shifting oil prices could affect the pipeline's viability, plus "supplement new and relevant information regarding the risk of spills." When the Trump State Department overturned a rejection of the project by President Barack Obama's administration, it failed to offer a fact-based or even "reasoned explanation" for disregarding the previous ruling. "An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past," said Morris, an Obama appointee, "any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate."
The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from tar-sand deposits in Alberta, Canada, and the Bakkan Shale Formation in Montana, through 875 miles of pipe in Montana and South Dakota, to an existing pipeline in Nebraska. Peter Weber
The Keystone Pipeline leaked more than 200,000 gallons of oil Thursday morning in an agricultural area of northeastern South Dakota.
TransCanada, the company that operates the pipeline, said it shut down the pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Cushing, Oklahoma, and to Wood River and Patoka in Illinois. They did not say what caused the leak or when the company expects to reopen the pipeline. A state official said the oil has not reached any bodies of water.
The last major leak on the Keystone Pipeline, which was rejected by the Obama administration and resuscitated by President Trump, was in April 2016, when 16,800 gallons of oil spilled in Hutchinson County, South Dakota. In a few days, officials in Nebraska are set to vote on whether to approve a 275-mile-long extension of the pipeline through the state, NBC News reports.Catherine Garcia