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US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals bars Keystone XL pipeline work

Environmental groups are celebrating as the $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline faces further delays. The U.S. appeals court upheld a November 2018 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana that blocked construction on the controversial tar sands pipeline amid an ongoing legal challenge.

In November, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws when approving a federal permit for the pipeline. The ruling blocked any construction while the government revises its environmental review.

The outcome resulted in TransCanada and the Trump administration appealing the Montana decision to the Ninth District Court of Appeals. TransCanada has argued that if it could not begin construction on the pipeline by March 15, it would miss the 2019 construction season altogether. Now, with Friday’s decision, TransCanada is saying construction won’t be able to start again until 2020, if at all.

“It’s been over a decade since this dirty tar sands pipeline was proposed, and TransCanada just keeps doing the same thing and hoping for a different result,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “Keystone XL would be a bad deal for the American people, and it’s never been more obvious that it will never be built.”

CBC Canada is reporting that in a January legal filing, Norrie Ramsay, TransCanada’s senior vice-president of technical center and liquid projects, wrote, “A one-year delay in the construction schedule would impose very significant consequences on TransCanada.”

Ramsey estimated this would “result in lost earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately $949 million US between March 2021 and March 2022, based on the minimum take-or-pay shipper commitment.”

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