Federal Judge Upholds Canceled Keystone XL Pipeline Permit, Limiting American Energy Development

On Monday, May 11, a federal judge in Montana upheld his April 15 ruling, which canceled a key environmental permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Nationwide Permit 12 is issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to authorize dredging work for pipelines and other utility infrastructure across federally-regulated water bodies. This decision not only creates an immediate impediment to the development of Keystone XL, but given the ruling also suspended the use of NWP 12, the sweeping decision will also likely cause delays for other oil and natural gas pipeline projects.

Craig Stevens, a spokesperson for GAIN, criticized the decision, stating:

“The court’s order flies in the face of common sense and throws our nation’s energy and economic security into peril. The judge sided with plants and animals over humanity in a decision that will directly impact hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs and likely raise the cost of energy. There are more than three million miles of pipelines in the United States transporting billions of gallons of crude oil and gasoline, and billions of cubic feet of natural gas products every day.

“Ignoring the near ubiquity of these pipelines – and their decades of safely transporting the energy we need on an on-demand basis – in defense of the possible idea of a potential leak demonstrates a caustic view of our country and its people. Instead of bowing to the implausible worst case of an unlikely pipeline discharge, policymakers and judges should consider the growth of technology in the midstream sector, the unparalleled track record of safety of pipelines, and humans’ need for reliable affordable energy and allow regulators, like the Army Corps of Engineers, to act in the best interests of our nation based on the best available science and data.” 

This ruling is a costly step backwards. America should work together to support companies that seek to invest in and build the infrastructure we need to safely transport energy to consumers across the country. Recent geopolitical unrest with Saudi Arabia and Russia should serve as a serious reminder of as to the importance of American energy independence. Rulings like this harm not only the energy industry, but also the millions of consumers across the nation who rely on affordable, reliable access to gas and oil products.

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