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Morris Cancels Permit For Keystone, Area Construction To Continue

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris vacated a permit April 15 for the Keystone XL oil pipeline expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska. The cancellation is another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays.

In his ruling, Morris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider the pipeline’s effect on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon, a massive dinosaur-like fish.

The ruling does not shut down work that has begun at the U.S./Canada border crossing into Montana, according to attorneys in the case. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across rivers and streams along Keystone’s 1,200-mile route.

A spokesman said TC Energy was reviewing the ruling.

“We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project,” said spokesman Terry Cunha.

Many American Indian tribes and environmental groups want Morris to halt construction at the border while a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s approval of the pipeline last year works its way through the courts.

The proposed pipeline would carry up to 35 million gallons of crude daily to Nebraska, where it would be transferred to another TC Energy pipeline for shipment to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico.

Keystone was rejected twice under the Obama administration because of concerns that it could worsen climate change.

As many as 11 construction camps, some housing up to 1,000 people, were initially planned for the project, although TC Energy says those are under review amid the pandemic. Tribal leaders and some area residents along the pipeline’s route have expressed concerns that the thousands of workers needed for the project could spread the virus.

TC Energy announced March 31 that it intended to start construction amid the global economic crisis. The provincial government in Alberta has invested $1.1 billion to jump-start the work.

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