Keystone XL Has Construction Preparation Related Work Blocked by Judge. Faces Additional Setbacks

Transcanda’s latest effort to begin construction on the Keystone XL pipeline project was set back by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris on Friday and may need to push its earliest start date into next year.

The judge said TransCanada can move pipe to storage yards along the pipeline route but ruled that the company cannot do work related to preparation of construction, including setting up camps for workers who would build the pipeline if it is allowed to move forward.

The $8 billion pipeline project would transport heavy crude from Alberta, Canada to Steel City, Nebraska, where it would link up with existing lines to transport oil supplies to Gulf Coast refineries and is now in the growing war between environmentalists and the oil industry over expanding pipeline infrastructure.

The cross-border line would carry oil sands, which the Obama administration blocked in 2015, largely over environmental and climate concerns. The Trump administration tried to revive this pipeline by signing an executive order to advance Keystone XL in 2017.

Morris ruled in November that the Trump administration failed to conduct the necessary environmental review when it approved Keystone XL and blocked the construction of the line. Also a month later TransCanada was prohibited from any activity that advances the project until new environmental reviews have been completed.

While the firm appealed the decision, TransCanada asked Morris to allow the company to prepare for construction, like hauling pipes to the site and setting up worker camps, but that work was also blocked by Morris on Friday.