A panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted an injunction against the Keystone XL pipeline, a ruling which will could allow construction of the project to begin. From the Associated Press:
The three-judge appeals panel ordered the lawsuit by environmental and Native American groups dismissed because President Donald Trump had revoked a 2017 permit allowing the $8 billion pipeline to be built.
Trump issued a new permit to take its place, which Justice Department attorneys say makes the legal challenge over the pipeline’s environmental effects moot.
Trump revoked the previous permit at the end of March. That permit had been stalled after a judge in Montana sided with environmental groups and issued an injunction last November. However, the same groups involved in the previous lawsuit have filed a lawsuit against Trump’s new permit, so the legal battle will continue. In any case, it appears that TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) has already said it’s too late to start construction of the pipeline 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.
Environmental groups have objected to the pipeline on the grounds that it will cross two US rivers and could be a danger to drinking water supplies in case of a spill. However, the real objection is to the production of oil from the tar sands in Canada. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club see this (and all fossil fuels) as contributors to climate change which should be left in the ground. That’s exactly the reason why former President Obama rejected the pipeline in 2016. Candidate Trump responded to his decision on Twitter at the time:
So sad that Obama rejected Keystone Pipeline. Thousands of jobs, good for the environment, no downside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2015
Days after Trump took office he signed a presidential memorandum about the pipeline but it has been tied up in court ever since.