BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request by Native American tribes to halt construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada over worries about potential spills and damage to cultural sites.
Work started this spring on the long-stalled pipeline that would carry oil sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.
The Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana and Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota have challenged President Donald Trump’s 2019 permit for the project.
The tribes say Trump’s permit violated their rights under treaties from the mid-1800s.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said in an Oct. 16 ruling that the tribes did not show they would suffer irreparable harm from the work that’s been done so far.
Morris said he had “serious questions” about the legal claims being made by the tribes. He did not make a final ruling and invited further arguments.
More than 1,000 people are working on the $9 billion project including building 12 pump stations for the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) line, said Terry Cunha with TC Energy, the Calgary-based company behind the project.
However, work on much of the pipeline itself remains stalled.
The U.S. Supreme Court in July upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated a permit needed for the pipeline to cross hundreds of rivers and other water bodies along its route.
Keystone XL was first proposed in 2008 and rejected under former President Barack Obama. It was revived by Trump as part of the Republican’s efforts to boost fossil fuel industries.