Montana judge allows preliminary work on Keystone XL oil pipeline while construction is blocked
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Montana judge allows preliminary work on Keystone XL oil pipeline while construction is blocked

Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana said in a hearing on Wednesday that pre-construction activities may continue for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Morris originally ruled this month that construction on Keystone XL must be halted to allow for further studies to ensure environmental safety.

Construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline was initially proposed by TransCanada, where oil would be shipped from Alberta to Nebraska via numerous states. The pipeline, which would connect to existing pipelines, immediately faced backlash due to the numerous environmental consequences.

The hearing occurred in response to a motion filed by TransCanada, which sought clarification on whether Morris’ ruling included pre-construction activities. The activities include building camps for workers, discussing logistics with landowners and hauling pipe. According to TransCanada, some of these operations have already been underway for months and are general planning/administrative work.

During the telephone hearing, Morris agreed that only certain activities could proceed, but deferred on others until briefs were submitted on the issue. Activities such as hauling pipe, surveying land and transportation planning were among those deferred for a later decision. Allowed preliminary work includes project engineering, administrative actions regarding compliance with state and local rules, acquiring land rights and other planning endeavors.