Judge cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit

Judge cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit

A district judge in Montana reportedly ruled Wednesday against the Keystone XL pipeline, canceling a key permit necessary for the project's construction.

According to The Associated Press, Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of environmental groups who argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to construct the pipeline over rivers did not properly take endangered species into consideration.

The setback for TC Energy, the pipeline's sponsor, comes just days after construction on the pipeline began near the U.S.-Canada border, the AP noted. Environmental groups celebrated Wednesday's court victory, with the main group behind the lawsuit calling it a "significant hurdle" the pipeline would face.

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“It creates another significant hurdle for the project,” Anthony Swift, of the National Resources Defense Council, told the AP. "Regardless of whether they have the cross border segment ... Keystone XL has basically lost all of its Clean Water Act permits for water crossings."

Other lawsuits are set to go to court Thursday against the pipeline, according to the news service, including efforts by Native American tribes to halt the pipeline project, which they argue poses significant environmental risk to reservations. Protests against the project came to a head in 2016-2017 when demonstrators gathered at the Standing Rock reservation for weeks.

TC Energy's plan to begin construction of the project amid the coronavirus outbreak has also reportedly faced criticism, with Native American and others warning that construction efforts could spread the virus.

A group supporting the pipeline, the Grow America's Infrastructure Now Coalition, said in a statement to The Hill that the ruling would cause further uncertainty for investors considering putting money in U.S. infrastructure projects.

“Yesterday’s ruling on Keystone XL’s Clean Water Act permits is concerning for the future of American energy. Keystone XL was permitted after years of careful review and received the necessary approval from both the U.S. Army Corps and State Department," the organization said.

"But the pipeline’s decade-long permitting battle has energy developers thinking twice before investing in new energy infrastructure projects. Infrastructure development, like Keystone XL, requires regulatory certainty and a straightforward permitting process that ensures these investments, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, are able to proceed with construction and safely operate once completed," it continued.

Updated at 10 a.m.