U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled on Thursday that enough has changed since the pipeline was first approved that new information should be considered, according to Global News.
The decision comes as work on the pipeline is beginning in northern Montana where pipe is already being shipped to the state by train and trucked to locations along the line, reports the Great Falls Tribune.
Judge Morris ruled the U.S. State Department didn’t look closely enough at factors such as the project’s viability in the face of lower oil prices, new modeling of possible oil spills and ways to mitigate them, or at the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.
“The department’s 2017 conclusory analysis that climate-related impacts from Keystone subsequently would prove inconsequential and its corresponding reliance on this conclusion as a centerpiece of its policy change required the department to provide a ‘reasoned explanation,’ Morris said, citing court precedent on similar policy changes. “The department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal.”
“The major spills that occurred between 2014 and 2017 qualify as significant,” Morris said in his decision, as quoted by The Hill. “The department would have evaluated the spills in the 2014 [environmental review] had the information been available.”
Morris’ ruling repeatedly faulted the Trump administration for reversing former President Barack Obama’s 2015 denial of the pipeline permit without proper explanation. Morris said the U.S. State Department “simply discarded” climate change concerns related to the project.
The Trump administration had tried to argue that federal courts didn’t even have the right to review Trump’s approval, saying that it extended from his constitutional authority over border crossings. The court rejected that argument.