JUDGE BLOCKS KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE, CITING BAD SCIENCE: A federal judge blocked the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline late Thursday, saying the Trump administration’s justification for approving it last year was incomplete.
In a major victory for environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, Judge Brian Morris of the District Court for the District of Montana overturned President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE’s permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which the president signed shortly after taking office last year.
The decision once again throws into doubt the future of the 1,179-mile Keystone XL, which for much of the decade since its proposal by TransCanada Corp. has been a lightning rod in national energy policy.
The Trump administration had tried to argue that federal courts didn’t even have the right to review Trump’s approval, saying that it extended from his constitutional authority over border crossings. The court rejected that argument.
In rejecting the permit, Morris relied mainly on arguing that the State Department, the agency that analyzed the project, didn’t properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from Keystone and the Alberta Clipper pipeline, and the risk of oil spills.
“The major spills that occurred between 2014 and 2017 qualify as significant. The department would have evaluated the spills in the 2014 [environmental review] had the information been available,” wrote Morris, whom Obama nominated to the court.
The judge also said that the State Department didn’t properly justify its switch from rejecting the pipeline in 2015 under the Obama administration to approving it in 2017 under Trump.
Such a change isn’t completely prohibited, Morris said, but the State Department needs to better explain changes like its decision to disregard the climate change arguments it made in 2015.
“The department’s 2017 conclusory analysis that climate-related impacts from Keystone subsequently would prove inconsequential and its corresponding reliance on this conclusion as a centerpiece of its policy change required the department to provide a ‘reasoned explanation,'" Morris said, citing court precedent on similar policy changes.
How people are reacting…
Canada is ‘disappointed’ with the ruling: Canada’s government is joining Trump in criticizing the ruling that blocked construction of the pipeline.
“We are committed to supporting our energy sector and the hard-working Canadians it employs. Our government has always supported the Keystone XL project, and we are disappointed by this decision,” Vanessa Adams, spokeswoman for Canadian Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi, said in a statement.
“It is important for good, middle-class jobs in Canada and for a successful energy export market. The project has received all necessary approvals in Canada,” she said.
Adams said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government “is taking an approach to resource development that will grow our economy and protect the environment. These priorities go hand-in-hand.”
Support for Keystone XL has been consistently strong in Canada since developer TransCanada Corp. first proposed it in 2008.
It would likely create thousands of jobs in Canada, while providing a major export opportunity for oil sands petroleum from Alberta.
Opponents of Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party are also mad, and are blaming him and his government.
“This is a wake up call for Justin Trudeau. We can’t rely on foreign governments to help us get full value for our resources,” Andrew Scheer, head of the Conservative Party and leader of the official opposition in Parliament, said on Twitter.
Read more here.
Trump calls the ruling a ‘disgrace’: The president slammed a federal judge’s late Thursday ruling that blocked the Keystone XL oil pipeline, calling it “a disgrace.”
“It was a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House Friday morning, heading to France.
“48,000 jobs. I approved it. It’s ready to start,” he added. The State Department has estimated that the project would provide up to 42,000 temporary construction jobs, but just 35 direct permanent jobs once completed.
Trump indicated that his administration would appeal the ruling from Montana federal Judge Brian Morris to the San Francisco–based Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has often ruled against his administration.
“I guess it’ll end up going to the 9th Circuit, as usual,” he said. “We’re slowly putting new judges in the 9th Circuit. Everything goes to the 9th Circuit, everything.”
Read more here.
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INTERIOR’S BORDER SURGE LEADS TO ARREST OF 4,000 IMMIGRANTS: Interior Department law enforcement officers in the past six months apprehended 4,010 immigrants illegally entering the country and turned them over to U.S. Border Patrol, according to government data released Friday.
In addition to border apprehensions, agency officers seized 2,356 pounds of drugs, as well as vehicles and firearms, according to the Interior Department.
The officers, whose jobs typically focus on patrolling federal parks in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City, were sent to the U.S.-Mexico border at the behest of Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWatchdog: Trump official boosted former employer in Interior committee membership Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE to aid President Trump’s call for a border surge.
The agency said the decision to place officers at “identified Interior lands” near the border was made in order to patrol U.S. parks and public land and provide assistance with arrests to Border Patrol. The reassignment of agency law enforcement increased arrests by almost 4,000 percent compared to the last six months of the Obama administration, according to Interior.
“President Trump made a promise to the American people that his administration will do everything we can to secure the southern border and protect our people, and that is exactly what Interior's law enforcement professionals are doing," Zinke said in a statement Friday.
"Under the previous administration, Interior's borderlands were basically an open door for illegal activity; and, what few law enforcement officers were down there were left unprotected and without the resources and backup needed to keep communities and themselves safe," he added.
Interior has acknowledged that this is the first time the force has been used in this capacity, and critics say it’s stretching the scope of the officers’ job descriptions — especially the US Park Police (USPP).
“This is not within the purview of Interior,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, told The Hill in May. “It’s a ridiculous idea but the motivation is political, pure and simple, it has nothing to do with safety or enforcement. And it certainly doesn’t enhance the mission of the Park Service.”
Grijalva will likely take over as chairman of the committee, which oversees the Interior Department.
Read more here.
ON TAP NEXT WEEK:
The Citizens' Climate Lobby will be in DC Monday to meet with members of Congress on the hill and push initiatives to deal with climate change. The group will also have their annual conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Miranda will join a group of other environment reporters on one panel to discuss how the midterms will reverberate through Congress.
Congress will finally be back in session next week after many weeks gone in the lead up to the Midterms.
On Thursday the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee will hold a hearing to examine funding needs for wildlife conservation and management. The meeting will likely discuss the draft of a bill introduced by Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden administration to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve MORE (R-Wyoming) in the summer that aims to make changes to the Endangered Species Act.
Also on Thursday the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee will hold a full committee hearing to discuss the nominations of Rita Baranwal to be an assistant secretary of nuclear energy at the Department of Energy, Bernard McNamee’s appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Raymond Vela to be director of the National Park Service.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
Rhode Island starts early to develop offshore wind workforce pipeline
Radioactive groundwater found at South Carolina nuclear fuel factory
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Friday’s stories…
-Canada ‘disappointed’ with court ruling blocking Keystone XL
-Interior Dept. apprehends 4,000 immigrants at US border in 6 months
-Trump says 'no' to firing Ryan Zinke
-Trump: Keystone XL court ruling ‘a disgrace’
-Appeals court grants Trump admin request to stay youth climate lawsuit
-Judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline
-Zinke spokesperson denies report that he sought Fox News job