Legal setback could mean year-long delay for KXL
CALGARY — TransCanada Corp. said it remains committed to its long-delayed, often-challenged $10-billion Keystone XL pipeline Friday even after a U.S. federal judge blocked the project.
United States District Court Judge Brian Morris issued an injunction Thursday preventing either Calgary-based TransCanada or the U.S. federal government “from engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation” of the pipeline.
Morris’s ruling said the U.S. State Department’s analysis “fell short of a ‘hard look’” at potential spills, likely impact on Native American cultural resources, cumulative emissions from Keystone XL and other oilsands pipelines and how a change in oil prices would affect the viability of the pipeline.
Analysts say the decision could cause a delay of up to one year for Keystone XL, which was first proposed 10 years ago.
Former TransCanada executive Dennis McConaghy, who wrote a book on the Keystone XL pipeline saga, said the Calgary-based pipeline giant had successfully re-contracted all the available space on the pipeline, which should sufficiently satisfy the court of the viability of the pipeline.
Noting that former U.S. president Barack Obama had appointed Morris to the court, McConaghy said pipeline opponents had “shopped (the case) as best they could to find a pliant federal court judge who had some nexus to the project.”
Obama rejected Keystone XL before leaving office.
McConaghy said that, most likely, “TransCanada has been working steadily through the night with the Trump administration to decide what they’re going to tactically do.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who approved a revived Keystone XL through an executive order in 2017, blasted the decision Friday. “It was a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace,” he told reporters at the White House.
TransCanada did not indicate how it would proceed on Friday but the ruling is a blow to the company’s plans to begin construction early next year. “We have received the judge’s ruling and continue to review it. We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Legal experts believe TransCanada has three avenues for the project. The State Department could try to address the deficiencies the ruling indicated, appeal the decision to a higher court or Congress could try to pass a law enabling the project’s construction.
Miles of unused pipe for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline sit in a lot outside Gascoyne, N.D. TransCanada has reinforced its commitment to the project after a U.S. federal judge ruled the potential impact of factors such as spills and emissions had not been considered.