June 1, 2020

Ninth Circuit Allows Decision To Block Pipeline Permit To Stand

As Bloomberg reports, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week refused to freeze a lower court’s decision to block a streamlined permit for oil and natural gas pipelines, including the Keystone XL project. The decision will keep the Army Corps of Engineers from using an accelerated water permitting approach for new pipelines.

The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), which the Metals Service Center Institute is a member of, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had urged the Ninth Circuit to keep the lower court’s decision from taking effect until the Circuit Court had time to review the case and make its final decision. The brief said Morris’ ruling, if allowed to stand, would disrupt the construction of critical energy infrastructure, and result in the loss of tens of thousands of construction jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

In declining to issue the stay, the Ninth Circuit ruled that “appellants have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” The next step will likely be an appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice (representing the Army Corps) and industry groups to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the Ninth Circuit and order the stay.

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