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Appellate court reverses block of Keystone pipeline, but legal hurdles to construction remain

Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 06, 2019

An appellate court tossed out Thursday a 2018 Montana federal judge’s order blocking Keystone XL pipeline Thursday, but it doesn’t appear likely the action opens the door for construction to start soon.

The ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of San Francisco, Calif., applies only to the fight over a now-defunct federal state department permit, which the Trump administration replaced in an unusual move with a presidential permit in March.

Environmentalists filed in federal court in April to block the new presidential permit. That effort appears to still be alive, and the developer has indicated to investors it can’t begin construction during the 2019 season.

This latest ruling from the Ninth Circuit vacates a November 2018 ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls, who ruled the Trump administration had failed to adequately analyze the environmental impact of the pipeline.

TC Energy is seeking to build the 1,179-mile pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota, before connecting to an existing line in Nebraska.

The company had begun initial pre-construction work in eastern Montana last fall before Morris’ ruling.