Judge Rules Keystone XL Docs Must Be Released
After a challenge from environmental activists, a federal judge in Montana has ruled that the U.S. government must supply additional documentation related to its approval last year of the proposed 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline.
District Judge Brian Morris ruled that activists who are suing to stop Keystone XL deserve to see more documents related to the approval of TransCanada’s planned oil pipeline, which was initially rejected by the administration of former President Barack Obama, in late 2015, before President Donald J. Trump invited the energy company to resubmit its application in early 2017.
The cache of documents reportedly amounts to 5 million pages; the Justice Department argued that the documents contain internal discussion that is not required to be disclosed publicly, and that the process of releasing the documents would be unduly costly.
First proposed in 2008, Keystone XL—which would move crude oil from the Alberta oil sands to Steel City, Nebraska, via Montana and South Dakota—underwent years of environmental reviews before the Obama administration rejected the plan in November 2015. In 2016, TransCanada, which had already begun initial construction on the line, sued the U.S. government over the rejection.
In January 2017, after his inauguration, Trump invited TransCanada to re-apply for Keystone XL, and the federal government approved the plan two months later.
The final required state approval for the pipeline, from Nebraska, came in November. TransCanada announced in January that it has enough commercial support to move forward with the plan, but has not officially said yet that it will definitely build the pipeline.
The government has until March 21 to supply the documents in question or provide an explanation as to why it cannot.