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‘Outstanding’ U.S. Appeals Court Ruling Delays Keystone XL by One Year

TransCanada Corporation’s $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline faces another year of delay after a U.S. appeal court denied its “urgent” motion, backed by Donald Trump’s state department, to lift an injunction blocking pre-construction activities.

“We are currently assessing the decision and considering our options moving forward,” the company said in a statement.

“It’s outstanding,” said lawyer Stephan Volker, who represents the Indigenous Environmental Network and the North Coast Rivers Alliance. “I think that it is the most important ruling in this case,” with Trump now more than half-way through his term office. Volker said no other administration would sign off on such an “ecologically disastrous project,” CBC reports, and “I think it’s highly unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn this ruling.”

In documents filed with the court, “TransCanada had said delays beyond March 15 could set the project back a whole year from its intended completion date in 2021, costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost earnings,” CBC notes.

“A one-year delay in the construction schedule would impose very significant consequences on TransCanada,” Senior Vice President Norrie Ramsay said in a January affidavit, resulting in “lost earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately US$949 million between March 2021 and March 2022, based on the minimum take-or-pay shipper commitment.”

A one-year delay would also “cause very substantial harm to third parties, including United States workers and TransCanada’s customers that are relying on the current in-service date of the project,” he added.

This is the latest in a series of setbacks for Keystone XL, after U.S. President Barack Obama denied the project’s long-sought export permit and Donald Trump subsequently reinstated the project. In court hearings in Montana, District Court Judge Brian Morris ordered the State Department to conduct a full environmental review of a revised route for the pipeline last August, then suspended pre-construction work on the line in November. In December, CBC recalls, Morris ruled that TransCanada could engage in some preparatory work, including engineering, contracting, and participating in meetings, but the company still laid off about 650 contract workers.On the sidelines of the CERAWeek fossil conference in Houston last week, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi urged U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to help clear delays that have hit the Keystone XL and Line 3 pipelines. “I brought up the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline and how we continue to support that project,” Sohi told CBC. “It’s a very important project for Canada and for the U.S.”