Le­gal set­back could mean year-long de­lay for KXL

The London Free Press - - WORLD - GE­OF­FREY MOR­GAN gmor­gan@na­tion­al­post.com

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.

AN­DREW BUR­TON/Getty imaGeS FileS

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.

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