Less than a month after a federal judge ruled lawsuits could continue over the routing of the Keystone XL pipeline through Montana, the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed a decision allowing the Bureau of Land Management to offer a 44-mile right of way to TC Energy
The Record of Decision reportedly allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer a right-of-way grant to TC Energy for a term of 30 years. In addition, it would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline across federal lands.
The decision was signed Jan. 22, less than a month after a federal judge in Helena ruled that a lawsuit filed by Native Americans could continue.
According to the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris, a lawsuit filed by the Fort Belknap and Rosebud Sioux tribes could continue after an attempt by TC Energy and the Trump administration to have the lawsuit dismissed. The administration and TC Energy had argued that the tribes had no jurisdiction over the project.
The tribes have been arguing that the administration had violated the treaty rights.
The proposed expansion route from the tar sands area in Canada near Hardisty in the province of Alberta would cross near the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana on its way through Fallon County near Baker and into South Dakota on its way to connect with the main Keystone XL pipeline in Steele City.
According to the proposed project, it will cost approximately $8 billion to build the pipeline between Hardisty and Steel City. It would be more than 1,100 miles in length, with a reported capacity to move 830,000 barrels a day.
According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the pipeline would enter the state near Morgan on the Canadian border and cut across 285 miles of the state before entering South Dakota about 35 miles south of Baker.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a Certificate of Compliance in 2012 for the project, which allowed for the Montana portion of the project and for associated facilties to be built along the route.
In a press release regarding the signing which granted a right-of-way Jan. 22, the Secretary of the Interior praised it. “Today’s decision is an important milestone in constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and a great day for the common sense infrastructure improvement in our country. President Trump clearly recognizes the importance of having the infrastructure necessary to meet our energy needs and to fuel our economic progress,” the Interior secretary announced.
Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte also announced his support, saying “the Keystone XL pipeline will create good-paying Montana jobs, boost our local economies, increase American energy security, and help keep energy prices down.”
According to information from the company, in the fall of 2010, TC Energy went to the market with a proposal to move Bakken crude oil production by constructing a receipt facility at Baker near the Montana-South Dakota border.
TC Energy said the company signed firm term contracts for 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil transportation from the Bakken to key US refining markets.
The Bakken Marketlink Project will provide receipt facilities to transport up to 100,000 bpd of crude oil from the Williston Basin-producing region in North Dakota and Montana, to Cushing, Oklahoma, and the US Gulf Coast using facilities that make up part of the Keystone Pipeline Project, the company website explained.