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Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline

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A federal judge has blocked construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Former President Barack Obama had blocked construction on the pipeline from continuing, but President Donald Trump had reversed it in an executive order. In a file photo, miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot on October 14, 2014, outside Gascoyne, North Dakota. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A federal judge blocked construction on the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday.

In a 54-page decision, Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana granted an injunction to the Indigenous Environmental Network and Northern Plains Resource Council against the U.S. State Department, the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, and the TransCanada Corporation.

TransCanada is blocked from “engaging in any activity in furtherance of the construction or operation of Keystone and associated facilities” until the State Department can confirm that doing so would not violate the Administrative Procedure Act or the National Environmental Policy Act.

Morris had ruled in August that the State Department had to reach a conclusion on the environmental impacts of the pipeline, but determined Thursday that the department's analysis had left out information he considered to be crucial. He also accused the State Department of using  “outdated information” about potential environmental impacts instead of “the best scientific and commercial data available.”

“These omissions require a remand with instructions to the Department to satisfy its obligations under NEPA,” Morris wrote.

In its initial report, the State Department had said that any climate related impacts from the pipeline “would prove inconsequential.” However, Morris argued that the department had not given a “reasoned explanation” for how it came to this conclusion.

TransCanada has claimed that the pipeline would result in few oil spills by decreasing the amount of oil being transported by rail, and lower greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the amount of oil being transported by ocean tanker.

If constructed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would stretch from Hardisty, Alberta, to Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pipeline going to the Gulf Coast.

In November 2015, former President Barack Obama's administration blocked the pipeline's construction, citing potential environmental impact. Two days after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reauthorizing the pipeline.

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