Activist judge Brian Morris in Montana may have just put the final nail in the Keystone XL pipeline project. He suspended construction of the pipeline pending another environmental review. Apparently, he didn’t like the conclusions of the first one he ordered, so he’s asking for a second opinion.
The court has asked the government to review its assessment and revise it, taking into account the changes in the oil markets since 2014, the latest in climate change, and the presence of “cultural resources” along the route of the pipeline that was planned to carry heavy oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. The 830,000 bpd pipeline will run from the Albertan oil sands through Montana and South Dakota, ending in Nebraska, where it would connect to the existing pipeline network that goes on to the Gulf Coast.
The court’s ruling comes a little more than a month after TransCanada said that construction of the pipeline could begin as soon as next year. The announcement followed an environmental impact review from the U.S. State Department, which concluded the pipeline’s impact on the environment would be “negligible to moderate.”
Even if the project can exhaust this activist judge’s attempts to stop it, there is growing tension on the Canadian side that is likely to table the deal indefinitely. For all intents and purposes, the Keystone XL pipeline is dead.
This is lunacy. We’re talking about the most modern and safe method of transporting heavy oil from the place it can’t be used to the place it can be used. Instead, we will remain reliant on Middle Eastern oil that comes without the unnecessary baggage snowflakes like Judge Morris impose on North America.
But that’s the mood of the day for the judiciary that continues to side with former President Obama to oppose current President Trump. Their power to maintain demonstrably dangerous policies and subvert progress is one of the main reasons we need judicial reform. These maverick judges can harm the nation at will and in cases such as this, they do.
Canada will be hesitant to cooperate on big projects like Pipeline XL because of our judiciary, and who can blame them? One man swimming in power can harm two nations with the stroke of his gavel. Sadly, he’ll sleep well believing he just saved an oil or two.