Judge halts Key­stone pipe­line

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Jeremy Dil­lon

WASH­ING­TON — A fed­eral judge in Mon­tana halted the progress of the con­tro­ver­sial Key­stone XL pipe­line Thurs­day over con­cerns the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion did not prop­erly con­sider its im­pact on cli­mate change and on vul­ner­a­ble an­i­mal species on the brink of ex­tinc­tion.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called the ac­tion a “dis­grace” and a “po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion” in com­ments to re­porters be­fore de­part­ing for his trip to Eu­rope.

The ac­tion marks a set­back for what had be­come a sig­na­ture en­ergy achieve­ment for Trump, who has touted his speedy ap­proval of the pipe­line al­most im­me­di­ately upon tak­ing of­fice in Jan­uary 2017.

That speedy ap­proval of a cross-bor­der per­mit by the State De­part­ment, how­ever, did not meet the stan­dards of the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act and the En­dan­gered Species Act, ac­cord­ing to U.S. District Court Judge Brian Mor­ris. The judge found the en­vi­ron­men­tal re­views were de­fi­cient in their anal­y­sis of the project’s ef­fect on green­house gas emis­sions and en­dan­gered species, among other ar­eas.

“The De­part­ment’s 2017 con­clu­sory anal­y­sis that cli­matere­lated 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 wrote in his de­ci­sion. “The De­part­ment in­stead sim­ply dis­carded prior fac­tual find­ings re­lated to cli­mate change to sup­port its course re­ver­sal.”

The ac­tion also marks the lat­est court in­ter­ven­tion block­ing the con­struc­tion of pipe­line in­fra­struc­ture af­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal groups filed law­suits al­leg­ing the fed­eral agen­cies ap­prov­ing per­mits failed to prop­erly an­a­lyze their ef­fect on cli­mate change and the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“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, the Sierra Club’s se­nior at­tor­ney, said in a state­ment.

It re­mains un­clear whether the ad­min­is­tra­tion will ap­peal the de­ci­sion, but it is ex­pected to do so. A com­ment was not im­me­di­ately avail­able from the State De­part­ment, through which the fi­nal ap­proval was granted.

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