Energy & Environment

Court blocks ‘preconstruction’ Keystone XL work

A federal judge said the developer behind the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline can’t even haul pipe in preparation for the project.

Judge Brian Morris of the federal District Court for the District of Montana rejected TransCanada Corp.’s request Friday to complete various “preconstruction” activities in preparation for building the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, saying they could lead to the irreparable harm he is trying to prevent.

“The irreparable injury threatened by the … preconstruction activities go beyond merely the ground-disturbing injuries alleged by plaintiffs,” Morris, nominated to the bench by former President Obama, wrote in his order, saying the activities “could skew the [State] Department’s future analysis and decision-making regarding the project.”

{mosads}Morris’s order follows his November ruling that blocked President Trump’s permit for Keystone XL. He ruled that the State Department didn’t properly consider several factors in evaluating the pipeline and didn’t properly explain why it is ignoring the Obama administration’s climate change concerns.

TransCanada had asked Morris to refine his ruling to allow certain activities, like hauling pipes closer to the construction areas, mowing rights-of-way and preparing worker camps.

“Several of these activities are required for the prudent, safe, and environmentally sound construction of the project,” TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said of the request at the time.

“Many of our pre-construction activities include submitting reports and other administrative actions required to remain in compliance with valid state and local permits.”

Morris ruled that some activities TransCanada wanted to continue are removed enough from construction that they can continue: securing project sites and completing certain biological and cultural surveys.

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