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Judge rejects challenge to ruling that canceled Keystone XL permit

Judge rejects challenge to ruling that canceled Keystone XL permit
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A federal judge in Montana has upheld his previous ruling canceling an environmental permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, creating potential delays for other oil and natural gas projects, according to multiple reports. 

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Monday denied a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to narrow his April ruling canceling Nationwide Permit 12, a streamlined permitting process that allows dredging work on pipelines across bodies of water, according to Reuters.

The Army Corps did not properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on possible risks to endangered species and other wildlife when it renewed the permit in 2017, Morris ruled, adding that allowing the agency to continue authorizing new building for oil and gas pipelines “could seriously injure projected species and critical habitat.”

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The judge did allow non-pipeline projects to proceed, citing their lesser threat to endangered species. The projects could include electric transmission lines, Reuters noted. 

“The need to protect endangered species and critical habitat from harm until the Corps completes programmatic consultation outweighs any disruption or permitting delays that would result from this partial vacatur,” Morris wrote, according to Bloomberg Law.

The Monday ruling does not bar the construction of pipelines. However, without a dredging permit, oil and gas projects could face delays as they seek additional reviews from environmental officials. 

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico.

"Yesterday’s ruling continues to delay the construction of new oil and gas pipeline projects across the U.S., including Keystone XL. As a result, the ruling hampers putting thousands of Americans back to work when the nation faces unemployment rates in excess of 20 percent," TC Energy, the company behind the pipeline, said in a statement to The Hill.

The company has vowed to appeal the ruling.

--This report was updated at 10:06 a.m.