BILLINGS, MT. (AP) – A federal appeals court has turned down a request by the Trump administration to revive a permit program for new oil and gas pipelines that was canceled by a federal judge in Montana.
The Army Corps of Engineers permit program allowed construction of pipelines and other infrastructure across wetlands and other water bodies with only minimal review if they met certain criteria.
U-S District Judge Brian Morris ruled more extensive environmental studies are required for such projects under federal law
Morris struck down the long-standing program as part of a challenge to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but the ruling also affected oil and gas pipeline proposals across the nation.
Government attorneys had argued the cancellation of the permit program would hamper construction of pipelines needed to deliver fuel to power plants and other destinations.
The appeals court action is the latest in a string of rebukes to the Trump administration’s vociferous promotion of fossil fuel interests and natural resource extraction from public lands with multiple judges finding repeated failures to sufficiently protect the environment and address climate change.
Some of the most far-reaching rulings have come from Morris. This month alone he halted the permitting program and cancelled oil and gas leases on several hundred thousand acres of federal land.
Despite the courtroom setbacks, the U.S. became the world’s top oil producer under Trump – continuing a trend that began in the Obama administration.