Energy & Environment

Federal judge rejects bid to kill Keystone pipeline lawsuits

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A federal judge ruled Friday that environmentalists and indigenous tribes can proceed with lawsuits against the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, dismissed the government’s arguments that President Trump has total authority to approve the $8 billion pipeline and said that the Rosebud Sioux and Fort Belknap Indian tribes made credible claims that the line violated their treaty rights.

However, the judge did deny environmentalists’ requests that the court impose an injunction to block work on the pipeline, given that construction is not planned until the spring. 

Morris first blocked work on the pipeline in 2018, leading the administration to issue a new permit earlier this year to try to circumvent the ruling.

Once finished, the 1,200-mile pipeline would deliver an estimated 830,000 barrels of crude daily from western Canada to the Gulf Coast. 

Opponents of the line say that burning the tar sands oil that would be carried would exacerbate climate change and that the line and its construction would infringe on land considered sacred for indigenous tribes. 

A portion of the separate Keystone pipeline spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into North Dakota in October.

–This report was updated on Dec. 22 at 11:45 a.m.

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