Keystone pipeline developer sues Obama

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The company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline is filing a pair of legal challenges to the Obama administration’s rejection of the project.

TransCanada Corp. said Wednesday that it sued the administration in a Houston federal court, stating President Obama exceeded his authority in November when he blocked the pipeline’s construction.

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The company separately filed an international petition under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking to recover the $15 billion in costs and damages it incurred in relation to Keystone.

The unexpected moves bring back to life one of the most controversial environmental issues of recent years, which the oil industry and environmentalists both thought was dead after Obama’s decision.

“TransCanada’s legal actions challenge the foundation of the U.S. administration’s decision to deny a presidential border crossing permit for the project,” the Calgary, Canada-based company said in a statement.

“In its decision, the U.S. State Department acknowledged the denial was not based on the merits of the project,” it continued. “Rather, it was a symbolic gesture based on speculation about the perceptions of the international community regarding the administration’s leadership on climate change and the president’s assertion of unprecedented, independent powers.”

Obama has asserted his power to decide the fate of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline because it would have crossed an international border — an argument TransCanada said is not supported by the law, the Constitution or NAFTA.