Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA

Photo Source tarsandsaction | CC BY 2.0

On Thursday, November 8, a federal court in Montana ordered a pause in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Sounds like cause for celebration, doesn’t it?  It’s not. Nothing can stop Keystone XL, and the reason is NAFTA.

The order from Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana came in a lawsuit brought by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), North Coast Rivers Alliance, and other environmental and Native American groups.  Defendants are the US State Department, which approves trans-border oil pipelines, and TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based corporation which is constructing KXL, a 1,179-mile long oil pipeline which will run from oil fields in Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, USA and from there via an already-existing pipeline to refineries in Texas.

In his 54-page order, Judge Morris held that the State Department had failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of approving TransCanada’s permit application, particularly the impact the KXL pipeline would have on global climate change.  KXL will transport Canadian tar sands oil, crude with a high carbon content.  Judge Morris ordered that work on the pipeline be suspended until the State Department could conduct further environmental studies.  Judge Morris’ serious treatment of global climate change places him in sharp contrast with President Donald Trump who dismisses climate change as a Chinese…

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