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May 11, 2020

MSCI Partner Opposes Montana Ruling That Could Shut Down Pipeline Development

In a ruling in mid-April, Montana Federal District Judge Brian Morris invalidated the Keystone XL project’s water crossing permits and struck down the validity of those permits for all utility projects nationwide. The ruling applied to all oil and gas pipelines, power transmission lines, broadband cabling, water mains and other utility line projects that intersect with water bodies under federal jurisdiction.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) immediately petitioned the court to stay its ruling. Judge Morris rejected the plea, but agreed to hear the government’s case. DOJ has said if Morris does not reverse his ruling, it will immediately appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana.

Importantly, 59 U.S. Representatives have co-signed a letter to the DOJ urging it to vigorously oppose Morris’ injunction.

The Montana ruling was sweeping, and, according to the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), the fallout already has begun. On April 30, the Sierra Club filed suit in the Federal District Court in Austin, Texas citing the Morris ruling and asking the court to invalidate water crossing permits for the Permian Highway Pipeline, which is already under construction. The Metals Service Center Institute is a member of EEIA, which is working on a litigation strategy in the event the Montana court does not reverse or greatly limit the scope of its ruling. Connecting the Dots will continue to monitor this situation.