Construction of TransCanada’s $8bn Keystone XL pipeline project has been blocked by the ruling of a federal judge in the US state of Montana on grounds of environmental concerns.
The court ruling comes less than two months following a conclusion drawn by the US State Department that the Keystone XL pipeline project will not have any significant impact on the environment.
In his ruling, US District Court for Montana judge Brian Morris said that the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions along with the impact on Native American land resources that were likely to be caused by the 1,900km long pipeline project were not adequately considered by the Trump administration before issuing a presidential permit in March 2017.
The federal judge apart from blocking construction on the Canada-US tar sands pipeline project has also ordered the government to relook at its environmental review.
Designed to deliver more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canadian oil sands into the US, the 36-inch diameter Keystone XL pipeline project is to begin at Hardisty in Alberta province, Canada and end south of Steele City in Nebraska, US.
Canada Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi has been quoted by Reuters as saying: “I am disappointed in the court’s decision and I will be reaching out to TransCanada later on today to show our support to them and understand what the path forward is for them.”
TransCanada said that despite the court ruling in Montana, it remains committed to laying the pipeline with a target to start construction in 2019. The US portion of the Keystone XL pipeline project has been planned to pass through Montana and South Dakota.
The tar sands pipeline project has been facing opposition from environmentalists for several years.
Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said: “Today’s ruling makes it clear once and for all that it’s time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream.
“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.”