Judge blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline, accuses Trump of ignoring climate information
The US District Court in Montana has ruled that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline cannot proceed, because the information provided by the government ignored evidence of the impact on climate and on cultural resources of Native Americans. At his morning press gaggle, Trump called the ruling a “disgrace,” but what the judge in the case found disgraceful was the way Trump EPA officials had “discarded” evidence that was available on the impact of the pipeline—evidence that caused President Obama to suspend construction in 2015.
Trump has claimed that construction of the pipeline would create as many as 28,000 jobs. However, even the firm charged with building the pipeline has suggested that the number of temporary construction jobs would peak at less than half of that number. The State Department estimates that the pipeline would create a fraction of that number during construction and lead to fewer than 50 permanent positions.
Trump has also claimed that the pipeline is vital for “American energy independence” though the diluted tar that would pass through the pipeline is actually sourced from Canada. Similarly, Trump had promised to require that the pipeline be made from American steel, but most would be constructed from already existing pipeline material sourced from Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere.
While Trump is already hinting that the ruling will be appealed, Inside Climate News reports that many others are celebrating the ruling.
Environmental advocates, landowners along the pipeline’s route and indigenous rights groups hailed the ruling. They called it a major setback—if not a permanent defeat—for the long-contested crude oil pipeline. The Obama administration had determined that the pipeline was not in the national interest, and President Barack Obama had cited its potential climate impact in rejecting it.
The decision of the court is that Trump’s EPA failed to follow the National Environmental Policy Act and ignored requirements that led to the original suspension of the project. The ruling suggests that any environmental evaluation must include consideration of impact on factors involved in climate change—which would be a welcome change.