TransCanada Loses Again in Latest Attempt to Begin Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

Ruling Deals Yet Another Setback to Proposed Dirty Tar Sands Project

San Francisco, CA — Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied yet another attempt by TransCanada to begin construction on its proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The court left in place a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana that blocked construction on the controversial tar sands pipeline amid an ongoing legal challenge.

Late last year, the District Court ruled that the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws when approving a federal permit for the pipeline. The ruling blocked any construction while the government revises its environmental review.

TransCanada and the Trump administration have appealed that decision in the Ninth Circuit. Today’s order leaves the injunction on construction in place while the court decides on the merits of the case.

TransCanada had argued that if the company could not begin construction by March 15, it would miss the 2019 construction season altogether. According to TransCanada, today’s decision means the earliest TransCanada could start construction is 2020, if it ever starts at all.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance, parties in a consolidated case, also filed an opposition to TransCanada’s motion.  

“It’s been over a decade since this dirty tar sands pipeline was proposed, and TransCanada just keeps doing the same thing and hoping for a different result,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “Keystone XL would be a bad deal for the American people, and it’s never been more obvious that it will never be built.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline would be an absolute disaster for wildlife, water and our climate,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “TransCanada won’t be threatening communities and habitats with pollution for profit while regulators review this terrible climate-killing project.”

“In court, facts matter. And those facts show that Keystone XL is a flawed project,” said Jackie Prange, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Ninth Circuit rightly rejected TransCanada’s premature attempt to build this dirty pipeline.”

“The Ninth Circuit made the right call in upholding the prohibition against construction activity by TransCanada. We do not need a foreign corporation disrupting Montana communities for a dangerous project whose permit has been deemed unlawful by federal courts,” said Dena Hoff, farmer and member-leader of Northern Plains Resource Council. “If implemented, the Keystone XL pipeline would threaten the drinking water for tens of thousands of Montanans not to mention important water sources for many agricultural communities. TransCanada should not be trying to force through a reckless project that does not currently meet legal standards.”

“TransCanada keeps losing in the courts because facts matter,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance president. “Farmers and ranchers will not turn over their land to a foreign corporation. It’s way past time for TransCanada to pack it up and go home.”

“Today’s ruling is another important moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Environmental laws exist to protect people and our lands and waters. Today, the courts continued to show Trump and his corporate polluter friends that they cannot start work on this disastrous pipeline that would harm rural landowners, farmers, ecosystems and Native communities.”

Additional Resource: Pipeline Update: Victories Pile Up, Delays Grow (Blog)


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.