Trump administration takes Keystone dispute to Supreme Court

U.S. Court News

The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive a permit program that would allow the disputed Keystone XL pipeline and other new oil and gas pipelines to cross waterways with little review.

Earlier this year, a Montana judge suspended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit program when environmental groups seeking to block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline argued the permit process allows companies to skirt responsibility for damage done to water bodies.

The permit program, known as Nationwide Permit 12, allows pipelines to be built across streams and wetlands with minimal review if they meet certain criteria.

Canadian company TC Energy needs the permit to build the long-disputed pipeline from Canada across U.S. rivers and streams. Industry representatives said U.S. District Judge Brian Morris' ruling blocking the program could also delay more than 70 pipeline projects across the U.S. and add as much as $2 billion in costs.

Morris ruled that Army Corps officials in 2017 improperly reauthorized the program, which he said could harm protected wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency request to block Morris' ruling filed by the U.S. government, states and industry groups.

On Monday, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court to do what the 9th Circuit court wouldn't: block Morris' ruling and let the permit program operate again while the lawsuit plays out in court.

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