It’s Thursday, April 16, and the Keystone XL pipeline just hit another roadblock.
Keystone XL, the pipeline that would funnel 830,000 barrels of oil a day from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast, keeps getting hammered in court.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Montana revoked a nationwide permit that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued to TC Energy, the company formerly known as TransCanada. That permit, the judge ruled, did not fully evaluate the effect the pipeline would have on endangered species. The 1,179-mile project would cross more than a thousand streams and other waterways and come within 100 miles of a dozen Native American reservations. TC Energy will go to court today to defend itself against a separate legal challenge brought by tribal communities.
The pipeline has been running into problems since 2015, when then-President Obama, responding to increased opposition from tribal and environmental groups, declined to grant the project necessary permits. In his first few days in office, President Trump ordered those permits to be issued, but the pipeline has since been delayed several times in federal and state courts.
The judge’s ruling on Wednesday was a win for the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that have been fighting the Army Corps’ permit since July 2019. The decision could affect when TC Energy can begin construction on the pipeline this year. Legal delays prevented the company from building any pipeline in 2019, in part because construction can only take place in warmer months when the ground is soft enough to dig in. Social distancing due to the novel coronavirus could further delay the company’s efforts to build the pipeline, a TC Energy executive said last week.
Last year, Greenland saw the biggest drop in its ice sheet’s mass since record-taking began, according to a new study. The decline was not just because of warming temperatures, but also because of unusually clear skies: When there are no clouds, there’s no snow. The study’s authors worry that climate models may be underestimating the threat that such atmospheric conditions pose to ice.
The Trump administration has halted controlled burns on public lands in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alarming state officials who see the program as a key wildfire prevention tool. Forecasters are predicting another harsh wildfire season in parts of the state due to dry conditions.
Adán Vez Lira, a well-known environmental activist, was shot in Mexico last week, according to the U.N. human rights office. He is the third environmentalist killed in the country this year. Vez Lira was known for defending an ecological reserve in Veracruz, opposing mines, and working to preserve wetlands.
What do you trust? Climate, science, and COVID-19 uncertainty
What’s the connection between climate change denial and coronavirus denial? How can we stay focused on science when facing global health catastrophes? Join the Grist staff for a free live discussion TODAY, April 16, at 12:00 pm PDT where we’ll dive into these questions and more. Register now!