US Federal Court Invalidates Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

The court ruling comes less than a month after TC Energy announced plans to proceed with construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Map showing path of Keystone XL project
Keystone XL Pipeline

A US federal judge in Montana ruled this month that the US Army Corps of Engineers violated the law when it approved Nationwide Permit 12, a key water crossing permit for TC Energy’s Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline and many other pipelines nationwide.

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Northern Plains and other conservation groups last year which challenged the Corps’ failure to adequately analyze the effects of pipelines authorized under the permit, including Keystone XL, on local waterways, lands, wildlife, and communities.

The ruling prohibits the Corps from using the Nationwide Permit 12 fast-tracked approval process for any pipelines nationwide. The ruling also comes less than a month after TC Energy said it would proceed with construction of the $8-billion Keystone project.

The ruling does not shut down work that has begun at the US-Canada border crossing in Montana, according to attorneys in the case. TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across hundreds of rivers and streams along the pipeline’s 1,200-mile route.

Preconstruction activities are already underway with the pipeline expected to enter service in 2023 and have the capacity to deliver 830,000 B/D of crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect with existing facilities to reach US Gulf refiners.