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Federal judge cancels Keystone pipeline permit

Demonstrators protest after President Donald Trump announced two executive orders to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The protest, hosted by organizations, took place on the north side of the White House on January 24, 2017. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Demonstrators protest after President Donald Trump announced two executive orders to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The protest, hosted by organizations, took place on the north side of the White House on January 24, 2017. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- A federal judge has canceled a key permit for the construction of the controversial Keystone pipeline, stating it was issued without proper assessment of the project's environmental impact.

U.S. Chief District Judge Brian Morris ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly analyze the project's effects on endangered species when it approved a key water crossing permit for TC Energy's 1,210-mile tar sands pipeline that is to run from Steele City, Neb., into the Canadian province of Alberta.

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When completed, the project is expected to deliver 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, where it will connect with TC Energy's existing infrastructure that will carry it to Gulf Coast refiners, the company said on its website.

However, Wednesday's ruling could block construction over hundreds of water crossings along the pipeline's projected route, the Sierra Club said in a statement.

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"The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in their relentless pursuit of seeing this dirty tar sands pipeline built," Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement. "Today's ruling confirms, once again, that there's just no getting around the fact that Keystone XL would devastate communities, wildlife and clean drinking water."

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The decision came in a legal challenge by a coalition of conservation and landowner groups against the U.S. Army Corps, TC Energy, the state of Montana and American Gas Association filed in November over the Trump administration's approval of the Nationwide Permit 12.

Wednesday's decision could also block similar pipelines that have been issued under this permit, the Sierra Club said.

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"Whether they like it or not, the Corps cannot skirt foundational environmental laws," said Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Cecilia Segal. "And projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will remain stalled as long as the administration keeps trying to illegally fast-track them."

Terry Cunha, an official with TC Energy, told The Hill in a statement that the company will be reviewing the court's decision.

"We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project," Cunha said.

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