The US Federal Court of Appeal rejected a request from Presidential Administration Donald Trump to renew permits for the construction of new oil and gas pipelines, which could delay the implementation of more than 70 projects and result in losses of up to $ 2 billion for companies, the Associated Press reported on Friday, citing the court’s decision.
The US Air Force Engineering Corps permit program allows the construction of pipelines across rivers and marshes with minimal approval procedures, subject to certain criteria. Conservationists dispute this program in the case of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline between the United States and Canada.
The Keystone XL project involves the construction of an oil pipeline with a length of 1.9 thousand kilometers and a capacity of more than 800 thousand barrels per day from the largest Canadian oil producing province of Alberta to oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2015, then U.S. President Barack Obama abandoned the project, announcing that it was contrary to US national interests. Then, US President Donald Trump signed a decree to resume the construction of Keystone XL.
Earlier, the chief district judge of the state of Montana, Brian Morris, ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers had violated federal law because it could not adequately assess the risks of building a pipeline for endangered animals and habitats. According to a court order, he must fulfill this requirement before applying a nationwide permit to the entire project.
Lawyers representing the interests of the government, supported by 19 states and numerous industrial groups, have tried to challenge this, citing the decision to delay the construction of pipelines supplying fuel to power plants and other facilities.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld Morris, stating that the government, states, and industrial associations did not provide enough evidence of the harm of such a decision so that the resumption of the program could be considered justified.
In the absence of such a program, companies will have to obtain numerous individual permits for the construction of pipelines that can cross water bodies hundreds of times.
According to the leading lawyer of the American Petroleum Institute, Paul Afonso, quoted by the agency, this may delay over a year or more over 70 projects, which together will increase their cost by $ 2 billion.