The US Supreme Court handed another setback to the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada on Monday by keeping in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key environmental permit for the project, the AP reports. Canadian company TC Energy needs the permit to continue building the long-disputed pipeline across US rivers and streams. Without it, the project that has been heavily promoted by President Trump faces more delay just as work on it had finally begun this year following years of courtroom battles. Monday's Supreme Court order also put on hold an earlier court ruling out of Montana as it pertains to other oil and gas pipelines across the nation. That’s a sliver of good news for an industry that just suffered two other blows—Sunday's cancellation of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline in the Southeast and a Monday ruling that shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.
In the Keystone case, an April ruling from US District Judge Brian Morris in Montana had threatened to delay not just Keystone but more than 70 pipeline projects across the US, and add as much as $2 billion in costs, according to industry representatives. Morris agreed with environmentalists who contended a US Army Corps of Engineers construction permit program was allowing companies to skirt responsibility for damage done to water bodies. But the Trump administration and industry attorneys argued the permit, in place since the 1970s, was functioning properly when it was canceled by Morris over concerns about endangered species being harmed during pipeline construction. Monday's one-paragraph order did not provide any rationale for the high court's decision. (More on the effects of the ruling and what comes next here.)