A federal judge has blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that United States’ President Donald Trump‘s administration had failed to adequately explain why it had lifted a ban on the project.
The ruling on Thursday by Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana dealt a stinging setback to Trump and the oil industry and served up a big win for conservationists and indigenous groups.
Trump granted a permit that allowed energy firm TransCanada to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline shortly after taking office. He said it would create jobs and spur development of infrastructure.
The administration overturned a ruling by the previous Barack Obama administration in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds.
The ruling is temporary and requires the government to do a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate, cultural resources and wildlife.
The project will duplicate an existing 1,150km pipeline, allowing it to ship up to 890,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Pacific coast of neighbouring British Columbia, in western Canada, for export overseas.
TransCanada had tried for more than five years to build the 1,897km pipeline until Obama rejected it in November 2015 amid pressure from environmentalists.
Indigenous leaders, who have been at the forefront of a grassroots campaign against the Trans Mountain project, have vowed that the pipeline “will never be built“.
Many indigenous people see the new pipeline as a threat to their lands, echoing concerns raised by Native Americans about the Keystone XL project in the US.