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Trump’s Pipeline Plan Backfires

Keystone Pipeline

The efforts of the Trump Administration to fast-track the approvals of major oil and gas pipelines have resulted in more, and often successful, legal challenges against the rushed approvals and permits, analysts and legal experts have told Reuters reporters Scott DiSavino and Stephanie Kelly.

Each of the three major oil and gas pipelines planned in the U.S.—Keystone XL, Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline, and EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Mountain Valley gas pipeline project—have seen years of delays and inflated costs because environmental and indigenous groups have increased the legal challenges against the projects.

Environmental activists and groups are going more aggressively after those pipelines, causing court hearings, reversals, and delays.

“It’s probably because they’re having a fair bit of success,” Amy Vazquez, a Houston-based partner specializing in energy litigation at the law firm of Jones Walker, told Reuters. 

The current U.S. Administration is pushing to have the controversial Keystone XL finally approved, after U.S. President Trump resurrected the project dumped by Obama. Keystone XL continues to face legal challenges, although the project got the go-ahead in August from a Nebraska court, which approved the alternative route after opponents disputed the original one. Indigenous and environmental groups still are challenging the second permit the Trump Administration has issued for Keystone XL.

Related: Is This The Next $170 Billion Energy Industry In The US?

On behalf of the state of Montana, Attorney General Tim Fox petitioned on Monday the federal district court to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. Fox is asking the court to allow the state of Montana to enter the lawsuit in support of the pipeline.

In the case of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast pipeline, environmentalists scored a victory after an appeals court vacated last December the Forest Service decision to allow the pipeline to pass through the Appalachian Trail. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to hear an appeal of the December 2018 lower-court decision filed by Dominion Energy and the Trump Administration.

In the EQM’s Mountain Valley pipeline project, environmentalists have also won in court, and the project has seen costs rise and timeline extended. Earlier this year, EQM increased the cost estimates to US$4.8-US$5.0 billion, from the previous estimate of US$4.6 billion, and postponed the planned completion to the middle of next year, in view of the legal and regulatory challenges.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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