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9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel nullifies barrier to Keystone XL pipeline

9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel nullifies barrier to Keystone XL pipeline

Brought to you by the U.S. Department of #WINNING!

Back in March, President Donald Trump signed a presidential permit to initiate the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline with a facility in Montana, the building of which has been delayed by a federal court order and an injunction.

Needless to say, the green justice warriors went forward with suits against the construction based on the old permitting. Now, in a decision that may shock many here, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel nullified a key barrier to the construction of the project, arguing that it no longer applies after the Trump administration replaced a permit earlier this year.

The court ruled Thursday night in favor of the Trump administration and TransCanada Corporation’s motion to dismiss.

The ruling sided with arguments that the old permit for the pipeline, which was replaced by the Trump administration in March, is no longer valid and therefore the injunction associated with it also no longer applies.

The action hands a victory to the Trump administration, which has long fought to finish construction of the international pipeline. It also opens up the door to restarting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was halted in courts in the fall in part due to failure to properly account for the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from the construction.

Trump in May signed a presidential permit as a way to jump-start the delayed construction of the 1,179-mile pipeline. The order superseded a March 2017 order.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby revoke that March 23, 2017, permit,” Trump wrote in the order.

I would argue that Trump’s foresight in removing the old permit should readily dispel any notion he isn’t up to the job of President mentally . . . but I digress.

The ruling is a win for Americans who like copious amounts of energy and employment. It is also a win for Canada.

The pipeline would ship up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the tar sands of Alberta through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would tie in to existing pipelines to carry the crude to U.S. refineries.

The ruling Thursday was a victory for TC Energy, a Calgary, Alberta-based company that wants to build the pipeline, though company officials have said it already missed the 2019 construction season because of court delays.

“We are pleased with the ruling,” TC Energy spokesman Matthew John said. “We look forward to advancing the project.”

Despite the ruling, it will be a while before construction actually begins.

But it’s not clear whether the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Thursday will have any immediate effect.

TC Energy, the company that wants to build the line, previously said it is too late to begin work this year.

Of course, the green justice warriors plan to respond to this legal decision is exactly as we have come expect:

Attorney Stephan Volker, who represents the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance, said he would request another judge’s order to block the project if he thought there was a chance of construction beginning immediately.

Representatives of a half-dozen other environmental groups vowed to keep fighting in court and predicted the pipeline will never be built.

“We shouldn’t forget the underlying issue here — global warning,” Volker said. “We’re trying to save the Earth. I wish the federal government would pay attention to the science and do its job.”

Someone should send Volker tickets to Glacier National Park.

Meanwhile, enjoy all the winning.


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Leavy, Bea, and Callahan is one hell of a lucky draw for Trump and the oil companies. Three Republican judges. Between when O’Scannlain took senior status and the Nelson confirmation, Callahan was probably the most conservative active judge.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to Carl. | June 9, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Inasmuch as this decision was made by a three-judge panel could there be an appeal before the full court?

regulus arcturus | June 9, 2019 at 6:48 pm

We shouldn’t forget the underlying issue here — global warning,” Volker said. “We’re trying to save the Earth.”

Good luck arguing fake science and religious doctrine in court Volker.

    DaveGinOly in reply to regulus arcturus. | June 9, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    A court is one place the alarmists can’t throttle the debate. Therefore it’s a place they really don’t want to go. In order to prevail, they must control information, something they can’t do in court.

    artichoke in reply to regulus arcturus. | June 10, 2019 at 12:25 am

    So they admit they really weren’t trying to protect the interests of the Fort Belknap Indian Community and others, but to “save the earth”?

    I didn’t know the “earth” was a party in this case. Maybe they should be more honest with the courts about whom they represent.

    Why? it’s worked before!

Shale Oil is trapped within rock and so does not travel and pick up contaminants like Mercury or Sulfur. Consequently, fracked oil is super clean and super light. It is a more environmentally friendly oil.

    Mike H. in reply to MattMusson. | June 9, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    If I’m not mistaken this is oil-sands petroleum from Alberta. It might have been in shale a while ago and percolated up but they’re collecting it from the surface.

      artichoke in reply to Mike H.. | June 10, 2019 at 12:27 am

      My understanding is that the Alberta product is like tar and they have to heat the sand to melt it off. Still, it can be cracked and used.

        MattMusson in reply to artichoke. | June 10, 2019 at 6:27 am

        You guys are correct and I was mistaken. I thought this ran to the Baken fields in the Dakotas. Alberta tar sands crude is heavy and tar like. Some refineries are actual mix it with super light fracked oil to create an intermediate product because their equipment is optimized for a heavier mix.

I misread the headline. I thought it said that the 9th Circuit removed the pipeline barrier. Silly me.

Of course the parties can now bring suit against the current permit. And you can bet that they will.