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Appeals court rules in favor of Keystone XL pipeline

By Sommer Brokaw
Appeals court rules in favor of Keystone XL pipeline
A group of protesters gathered to rally against President Donald Trump's actions in support of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines at the Federal Building Los Angeles in 2017. On Thursday, an appeals court ruled in the Trump administration's favor regarding moving the Keystone pipeline forward. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 8 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline moving forward by overturning a lower court injunction, but U.S. construction is still delayed.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled in favor Thursday night of the Trump administration and TransCanada's Corp.'s argument against the injunction.

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The three-judge panel found Thursday that the injunction no longer applies because the Trump administration replaced the old permit associated with it in March.

The decision allows the Calgary-based pipeline giant TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corp., to begin construction on the 830,000-barrels-per-day pipeline from tar sands in Western Canada to Nebraska and to move crude oil into refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast, but previous delays have made the company lose the 2019 construction season.

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"There will be no mainline construction in 2019 in the U.S.," TC Energy spokesman Matthew John told the Financial Post in an email.

Still, "we are pleased with the ruling," John said. "We look forward to advancing the project."

The federal district court in Montana previously determined that environmental review for the pipeline was incomplete and blocked construction until the government complies with the law. Trump issued a new permit, which undermined the Montana court's decision.

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"Despite today's ruling, we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built," Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said. "This proposed project has been stalled for a decade because it would be all risk and no reward, and despite the Trump administration's efforts, they cannot force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people."

The embattled project has been held up with opposed environmental activists and landowners pushing former President Barack Obama to reject it as not in the national interest in 2015. However, early in his administration, President Donald Trump took action to permit the pipeline's completion.

Trump signed a presidential permit to allow the company to build the pipeline in March 2017 and two years later replaced it with a new permit.

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"For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby revoke that March 23, 2017, permit," Trump wrote.

A White House spokesperson told The Hill at the time the new permit "dispels any uncertainty."

"Specifically, this permit reinforces, as should have been clear all along, that the Presidential Permit is indeed an exercise of presidential authority -- that is not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act," the spokesperson said.

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