Judge removes one barrier to Keystone XL pipeline; fight in Nebraska not over

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An appeals court has lifted a judge’s injunction that blocked construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

But it’s not clear whether the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Thursday will have any immediate effect. TC Energy, the company formerly known as Transcanada that wants to build the line, previously said it is too late to begin work this year.

The three-judge appeals panel ordered the lawsuit by environmental and Native American groups dismissed because President Donald Trump had revoked a 2017 permit allowing the $8 billion pipeline to be built. Trump issued a new permit to take its place, which Justice Department attorneys say makes the legal challenge over the pipeline’s environmental effects moot.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs accuse Trump of trying to skirt the law, and they have filed another lawsuit to block the new presidential permit. That suit has not been resolved.

Thursday’s federal court ruling does not affect a lawsuit in Nebraska that challenges the approval of a Keystone XL route across the state. The Nebraska Supreme Court has yet to rule on the lawsuit, which was filed by landowners, as well as environmental groups and two Indian tribes, opposed to the crude oil pipeline.

A leader with Bold Nebraska, a leading opposition group, said Thursday that those groups will continue to fight in court the Trump administration’s attempt to “fast track” a pipeline they consider dangerous.

“There are still lots of legal avenues, and we are going to pursue every single one of them,” said Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska.

World-Herald staff writer Paul Hammel contributed to this report.