The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday denied the Trump administration’s request to continue Keystone XL Pipeline construction. This decision will delay pipeline construction until the Ninth Circuit renders its final decision.
The Ninth Circuit’s denial follows after the Montana District Court revoked construction permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline in July 2019. The lower court found that the Army Corps of Engineers did not have proper construction permits, revoked the improper permits, and ordered an environmental impacts evaluation for the proper permit. The court also found that the pipeline would likely have “adverse environmental effects.” The district court remarked:
The Corps’ issuance of the verifications/letters constitutes de facto or implicit approvals of all non-PCN waterways listed in the PCNs, and violates NWP 12 and section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act for approving those waterways without evaluating their adverse environmental effects. Because the adverse environmental effects caused by all of the project’s water crossings would be more than minimal, Keystone XL is ineligible for authorization under NWP 12 and the Corps’ verification of the project under NWP 12 was unlawful. Instead, the Corps must evaluate the project under the individual section 404 permit process pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 1344(a) before the project can proceed.
The Trump administration wished to continue construction without consulting experts on endangered species effects. The Trump Administration appealed and motioned to stay the district court’s order. The Ninth Circuit has let the order stand while it hears the case and makes a final decision on a later date.