Although the decision does not permanently halt the pipeline's construction, it nevertheless comes as TransCanada, the Canadian company that owns Keystone, is preparing to start construction in Montana, shipping pipe to various locations throughout the state, the Great Falls Tribune reports.
In March 2017, the Trump administration issued a permit approving construction of the pipeline, reversing the Obama administration's decision to block the controversial project.
In doing so the administration overturned a ruling by then president Barack Obama in 2015 that denied a permit for the pipeline, largely on environmental grounds, in particular the U.S. contribution to climate change.
Yesterday's ruling is temporary, and requires the government to do a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate, cultural resources and wildlife.
What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?
Then came policy shifts in the Trump administration. "TransCanada does not have an approved pipeline at this point".
The groups argued the U.S. State Department violated several acts in issuing a presidential permit for the pipeline without a proper environmental assessment of the changed route.
"Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade", Keever continued. Morris was appointed by Barack Obama and began his term in December of 2013. "Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they can not bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities".
TransCanada, which is pushing the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.
Keystone XL would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada and Montana to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast. "We remain committed to building this important energy infrastructure project". Native American groups in Montana and elsewhere fought the Keystone project as well, saying its route failed to adhere to historical treaty boundaries and would impinge on their water systems and sacred lands. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of previous year.
Morris ruled the Trump administration "jumped the gun" by pushing forward with the pipeline despite concerns over damage to native American heritage and the resulting release of greenhouse gases.
"The department failed to make a fact-based explanation for its course reversal, "let alone a reasoned explanation....'An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts'" in the present", he wrote, quoting judicial precedents. "It's not over for us, we're just going to keep on going ahead".