In a major victory for the planet and blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up fossil fuel extraction and production in the face of grave climate consequences, a federal judge on Thursday halted all construction of TransCanada’s 1,200-mile long Keystone XL pipeline and tossed out the White House’s fact-free approval of the project.
Issued by Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, the ruling ripped President Donald Trump’s State Department for blithely tossing out “prior factual findings related to climate change” to rush through the Keystone pipeline and using “outdated information” on the severe threat the tar sands project poses to endangered species, tribal lands, and the water supply.
“This is a complete repudiation of the Trump administration’s attempts to evade environmental laws and prioritize oil company profits over clean water and wildlife,” Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Keystone XL would devastate species and put communities at risk of contamination. There’s simply no excuse for approving this terrible project. We need to move away from fossil fuel dependence, not support more devastation.”
Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth, added that Thursday’s ruling is “a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet.”
“Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade,” Keever continued. “The courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists, and Native communities.”
Morris’ ruling requires the Trump administration to conduct a more complete review of the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline.
While noting that Thursday’s ruling does not completely terminate the Keystone project and that the “now ten-year battle is still far from over,” Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance declared, “Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana celebrate today’s victory foiling the Trump administration’s scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL.”
If constructed, Keystone would carry up to 830,000 barrels daily from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. Indigenous tribes — which have fiercely protested Keystone in the courts, in the streets, and in front of the White House — argue that the project would seriously endanger their lands and the planet.
“This is a win for Lakota, the Oceti Sakowin and other Tribal Nations, for the water, and for the sacredness of Mother Earth,” Tom Goldtooth, executive director for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a statement. “This pipeline is the enemy of the people and life as we know it. It must be stopped. We will continue our prayers to take action to fight the Trump administration in defense of the sacred, to protect Indigenous rights, to defend our treaty territories, and to advocate for the continuation of the next seven generations of life on Mother Earth free from fossil fuels.”