Keystone XL Ruling Comes at Worst Time for Canadian Oil Industry

The pipeline would transport up to barrels of crude a day from Alberta Canada and Montana to facilities in Nebraska

A federal judge issued a major ruling Thursday halting construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline until the Trump administration carries out a valid updated environmental review of the project's impact.

Environmentalists and tribal groups cheered the ruling by a US district judge in Montana, while President Donald Trump called it "a political decision" and "a disgrace".

Morris found that the USA government's use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Indigenous Environmental Network, River Alliance and Northern Plains Resource Council filed a pair of lawsuits against the U.S.in March 2017 shortly after President Donald Trump gave his approval for the project to cross the U.S.

The pipeline would shuttle as much as 830,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta through a half-dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

Judge Morris also said State didn't properly justify approving the pipeline in 2017 under Mr. Trump after rejecting it in 2015 under Mr. Obama.

He said the decision also fell short in other areas, including the impact on Native American lands, and did not take into proper consideration issues like oil spills and low prices. Environmentalists and some Native American groups sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.

The administration can appeal against the decision.

The fight over the project has spanned several presidencies and involved standoffs between protesters and law enforcement.

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The permit approval followed years of intense debate over the pipeline amid steadfast opposition from environmental groups.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb.

Speaking outside the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump said the ruling was a disgrace.

Western Canadian Select crude oil is selling at about $18 a barrel as its discount to USA benchmark West Texas Intermediate as a lack of pipeline capacity bottlenecks production in Alberta.

In 2015, on the eve of the global climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

USA benchmark WTI little changed after the decision, trading down 0.1 percent.

"This is a complete repudiation of the Trump administration's attempts to evade environmental laws and prioritize oil company profits over clean water and wildlife", Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate", Morris wrote. "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".

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