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A Montana judge canceled a vital permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline with the argument that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to consider the effects of the pipeline on one fish species present in rivers that the route of the Keystone XL would cross.
The cancellation comes just days after work on the construction of the pipeline began after two years of setbacks. Bloomberg reported last week that construction works had started on the Canadian part of the pipeline amid calls from opponents to delay the start because of the coronavirus outbreak.
These construction works will not stop due to Judge Brian Morris’s ruling, the AP notes in a report on the news. However, it will delay work on the U.S. side of the border, perhaps indefinitely.
“It creates another significant hurdle for the project,” said a representative of one of the organizations opposing the Keystone XL. “Regardless of whether they have the cross border segment ... Keystone XL has basically lost all of its Clean Water Act permits for water crossings.”
The Canadian National Energy Board approved the start of preliminary work on the Keystone XL pipeline in January last year, but U.S. opposition has been strong and relentless.
The pipeline, vetoed by President Obama and then given the green light by President Trump, was planned to carry heavy oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. The 830,000 bpd pipeline will run from the Albertan oil sands through Montana and South Dakota, ending in Nebraska, where it will connect to the existing pipeline network that goes on to the Gulf Coast.
A lot of the opposition to the project—and the reason President Obama vetoed it—was that it was believed to be unnecessary for the U.S. energy sector. It was, however, vital for the Canadian energy sector, which has been struggling with a pipeline shortage for several years now.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.