Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline

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Earlier this year, reports emerged that TransCanada, the developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, plans to start the construction in 2019.

"The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can't ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities", Hayes said.

Morris previously ruled against the State Department in August, saying it was obligated to "analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision".

An AP map shows the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension route.

A federal judge in Montana issued a "landmark" ruling temporarily blocking construction on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline Thursday in a decision welcomed by environmental groups.

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"An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate", Morris wrote.

The same environmental analysis that the department carried out before denying the permit in 2015 was ignored when the department turned around previous year and approved it, the judge argued.

The ruling is a major victory for environmentalist groups that sued to stop the project and for the Native American tribes that have protested against it for years.

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TransCanada says it remains committed to the project despite the Montana judge's ruling that it must pass a further environmental review.

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"The Department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal", Morris wrote.

Neither TransCanada nor the State Department could immediately be reached for comment on the ruling. In the US, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada.

The judge also argued that the government's analysis had not fully determined the potential for oil spills and had failed to provide substantiating evidence or a "reasoned explanation" for overturning the Obama administration's decision to block construction. "It was a political decision made by a judge". The government and TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, are now legally barred from continuing construction on the pipeline until the Trump administration completes a supplemental document justifying the pipeline that satisfies the legal requirements.

"This is a win for Lakota, the Oceti Sakowin and other Tribal Nations, for the water, and for the sacredness of Mother Earth", Tom Goldtooth, executive director for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in astatement.

"We sleep well tonight and tomorrow we continue to keep our guard up, working stronger as good relatives until Keystone XL vanishes, and it will", said Faith Spotted Eagle, member of the Yankton Sioux Nation and Brave Heart Society.

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