Judge denies attempt to halt Keystone oil pipeline

Judge denies attempt to halt Keystone oil pipeline

A judge has refused to stop construction of a crude-oil pipeline that would be built by TransCanada Corp. through eastern North Dakota, saying state regulators took adequate safety precautions in deciding its route.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission did a thorough factual and legal review of its order allowing construction of the Keystone pipeline, district court judge Gail Hagerty said in her ruling Thursday.

Hagerty’s decision says she believes Keystone’s developers are likely to win a North Dakota Supreme Court challenge of the commission’s ruling, should its opponents decide to undertake one.

“It would seem a reasoning mind could reasonably have determined that the findings are supported by the weight of the evidence,” Hagerty wrote.

The Dakota Resource Council, a Dickinson-based environmental group, and a group of landowners along the pipeline’s route had asked Hagerty to order the commission to reconsider its approved route for the line.

They contended the pipeline would run too close to important water supplies, including the Fordville aquifer in Walsh County and Lake Ashtabula, which provides a backup water supply for the city of Fargo, N.D.

Hagerty wrote that the Dakota Resource Council misinterpreted state law in making its arguments.

“No North Dakota statute requires the commission to accept only the safest available route,” Hagerty’s decision says.

“Instead, (the law) mandates only that the sites and routes of transmission facilities be chosen to minimize adverse human and environmental impact.”

The Keystone pipeline, which is being developed by Calgary-based TransCanada, is being built to carry oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to locations in Illinois and Oklahoma. Its planned route stretches for 350 kilometres through eight eastern North Dakota counties.

Keystone hopes to finish the North Dakota segment of the pipeline by year’s end.


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