In another legal victory for opponents of Keystone XL and similar pipelines, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that suspended a federal fast-track permit for the controversial tar sands project that campaigners for nearly a decade have opposed as a climate-destroying effort of the first order.
Siding with the previous ruling and against the Trump administration, the court's ruling said the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project "have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal."
Last month, as Common Dreams reported at the time, the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled that the Trump administration's Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued what became "Nationwide Permit 12." The ruling by that court vacated the Trump-backed permit for Keystone XL and also prohibited the Corps from replicating use of the fast-tracked approval process for other similar projects.
While Bloomberg reported the ruling as "a major blow to the energy industry," climate campaigners celebrated it as confirmation that Keystone XL is rightly recognized as a hazard and that President Donald Trump acted unlawfully by trying to ram through its construction.
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"The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in its relentless pursuit of seeing Keystone XL built, and it would have been unconscionable to allow this pipeline to be built through rivers, streams and wetlands while it remains tied up in court," said Doug Hayes, a senior attorney with Sierra Club. "We're glad to see the court recognize the threat this dirty, dangerous pipeline poses to communities, wildlife, and clean drinking water along its route, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure it is blocked for good."
Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "Contrary to what the Trump administration has argued, the law is clear. We won't sacrifice imperiled species so giant corporations can profit from the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate."
GOOD NEWS: In a win for communities, wildlife, and the climate, a federal court ruled in our favor today to uphold the order blocking the #KeystoneXL pipeline from using a key water-crossing permit! #NoKXL— NRDC (@NRDC) May 28, 2020
Learn more about NRDC's fight to stop #KXL https://t.co/KBcUlWoGcm
Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth, also welcomed the ruling but urged caution as the legal fight is certain to continue. "The court's decision today buys some time for our environment, but its future remains in jeopardy," Keever said. "We will continue to fight against this administration’s stubborn insistence to build the toxic, climate destroying Keystone XL pipeline."