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‘It’s a disgrace’: Trump blasts judge’s decision to block Keystone XL pipeline

‘It’s a disgrace’: Trump blasts judge’s decision to block Keystone XL pipeline

The latest ruling follows the court's previous decision in August to require the State Department to also conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement on a new route through Nebraska.

The judge also argued that the State Department failed to properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from the pipeline and the risk of oil spills.

Tom Goldtooth, executive director for the Indigenous Environmental Network said the ruling was a win for tribes, water "and for the sacredness of Mother Earth".

In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the United States contribution to climate change.

While noting that Thursday's ruling does not completely terminate the Keystone project and that the "now ten-year battle is still far from over", Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance declared, "Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana celebrate today's victory foiling the Trump administration's scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL".

An appeal of the decision is highly likely, as the legal back-and-forth looks set to continue in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Environmentalists and Native American groups had sued to stop the project, citing property rights and possible spills.

Work can not proceed until the State Department completes a supplement to the environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, Morris ruled.

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TransCanada Corp's almost 1,200-mile pipeline has become one of the major battlegrounds in the climate change debate and, if completed, would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels per day from Canada's tar sands pits to Gulf Coast refineries in the US.

The massive project remains one of the most controversial infrastructure proposals in modern American history.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Doug Hayes, a lawyer for the Sierra Club environmental group, said in a statement as cited by CNBC.

The US stretch of line that needs to be built would be 875 miles (1,450 km) long.

Morris said, however, that there have indeed been changes since the 2014 assessment and that the Trump administration failed to consider them. The order came as a Canadian energy company prepared to assemble initial stages of the 1,200-mile long, cross-border project.

- The department "acted on incomplete information regarding" the potential damage to cultural resources in Indian territory along the route.

"An agency can not simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past", Judge Morris said in his ruling. "That's why we keep winning in the court".


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