Injunction against Keystone XL quashed, but hurdles remain for embattled pipeline

A Montana judge ruled that the old permit for the pipeline, which was replaced by the Trump administration, is no longer valid. Therefore, the injunction associated with it no longer applies. 

Judge rules old permit, replaced by Trump, was invalid and so too was the injunction based on it

In this Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, is seen in Steele City, Neb. (Nati Harnik/The Associated Press/The Canadian Press)

An injunction against the Keystone XL pipeline has been quashed in the U.S., but challenges to the project remain. 

A Montana judge ruled that the old permit for the pipeline, which was replaced by the Trump administration, is no longer valid. Therefore, the injunction associated with it no longer applies. 

"So as of now there is no injunction that's preventing Keystone XL from beginning construction," said James Coleman, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

"And this was the first part of the plan that the Trump administration put into practice when at the start of April they revoked the old permit and permanent process for cross-border pipelines and established a new one and gave Keystone a permit under that new one."

Construction held up by court

A Montana court will now have to rule on whether the new permit, which gives Donald Trump the authority to approve the project, is itself valid. 

Previously, the courts had ruled approval of the pipeline did not take into consideration new developments and an environmental review was incomplete. 

Trump then introduced his permit, which bypassed that process and place authority in his office. 

Groups opposed to the pipeline had been fighting in court based on the previous permit.

Environmental opposition

Some, however, note the fight isn't over. 

"The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen and we will not stop fighting it, or President Trump's extraordinary misuse of executive power to disregard the courts and environmental laws," said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement. 

"We will explore all available legal avenues to stop this dirty tar sands oil pipeline from ever being built and endangering our communities and climate."

That determination was echoed by Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in the same statement. 

"The Trump administration thinks it's getting away with approving this dangerous project without adequate environmental review, but we'll keep fighting Keystone XL to protect the people and wildlife in its path and prevent further harm to our climate," he said.

Lost time, lost money

TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, has already said the delays mean it won't have shovels in the ground this year. 

In court documents, the company has said delays beyond March 15 could set the project back a whole year from its intended completion date in 2021, costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost earnings. 

The Keystone XL pipeline, first announced in 2005, would carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska. The pipeline would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to refineries in Texas.

The Obama administration denied Keystone XL's permits, but Trump breathed life back into the project after giving it his presidential thumbs-up.


Drew Anderson

Former CBC digital journalist

Drew Anderson was a digital journalist with CBC Calgary from 2015 to 2021 and is a third-generation Calgarian.

With files from Meegan Read


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