Montana Public Radio

Court To Hear Appeal Over Federal Pipeline Permitting Decision

Apr 28, 2020
Originally published on April 28, 2020 6:02 pm

A federal judge in Montana will hear an appeal from U.S. attorneys on his decision to block a federal pipeline permitting program.

Great Falls Federal Judge Brian Morris Tuesday granted the government’s request for an expedited appeal but kept in place a hold on projects using Nationwide Permit 12.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking Morris to reverse the cancellation of the permitting program used to approve oil and gas pipelines and other utility work through wetlands and streams across the nation.

Morris on Apr. 15 ruled that the Nationwide Permit 12 was reauthorized in 2017 without sufficient consideration of its potential environmental harm.

Federal attorneys said Monday that the ruling would hamper thousands of construction projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That includes the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which began construction this month.

Environmentalists say the permit allows projects to skirt water protection laws and ignores the cumulative harm caused by thousands of stream and wetlands crossings.

Morris requested all parties submit their briefings by May 8.

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