U.S. says it will complete Keystone XL environmental review

U.S. government attorneys say the Trump administration plans to finish a new environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from even if a federal appeals court throws out a lawsuit that blocked the project.

Environmental study was ordered by federal judge in November

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline protest in Nebraska in 2017. A federal judge in Montana has blocked construction of the $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline to allow more time to study the project's potential environmental impact. (Nati Harnik/The Canadian Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration plans to finish a new environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline even if a federal appeals court throws out a lawsuit that blocked the project, according to government attorneys

Trump issued a new permit for the $8-billion pipeline, which would ship crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, last month.

In court filings on Tuesday, U.S. government attorneys said it is "undisputed" that Trump's permit is not subject to two major environmental laws — the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.

Nevertheless, the attorneys say the State Department will complete an environmental study ordered by a federal judge in Montana in November.

The long-delayed line would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude daily from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, where it would connect with the original Keystone that runs to refineries in Texas.

It was originally rejected by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, but later approved by a presidential permit issued by Trump in 2017.

November's court ruling found Trump's administration did not fully consider oil spills and other environmental impacts in 2017, and Trump's latest permit was intended to circumvent that ruling.

Earlier this week, an executive for Calgary-based TC Energy — formerly known as TransCanada — said the delays have caused the company to miss the 2019 construction season.

With files from CBC Calgary


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