Judge Brian Morris' 54-page order, issued late Thursday, overturns the Trump administrations's approval past year of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline and at least temporarily prevents it from being built.
In 2015, on the eve of the worldwide climate talks in Paris, the Obama administration appeared to bring an end to the seven-year-long saga when it announced it was halting construction of the pipeline, arguing that approval would compromise the country's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Morris wrote in his ruling that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis "fell short of a "hard look" at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.
"It's clear that this decision tonight will delay the pipeline significantly", said Hayes, who noted that a proper environmental impact statement of this scope usually takes about a year to complete.
The analysis of a cross-border project like this is done by the State Department. He had yet to rule on vacating the permit itself.
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Thursday's ruling is temporary, and requires the government to do a more thorough review of how the project might affect the climate, cultural resources and wildlife.
Judge Morris also said State didn't properly justify approving the pipeline in 2017 under Mr. Trump after rejecting it in 2015 under Mr. Obama. At that time, the Department "relied heavily on the United States's role in climate leadership". "The department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal".
The pipeline was first proposed in 2o08. In the US, the pipeline would stretch 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, with the rest continuing into Canada. Another 1,200 miles would run through Canada. He signed an executive order supporting its construction in March of past year. TransCanada, the Calgary-based group behind the project, did not respond to request for comment early Friday morning.
"Today's ruling is a decisive 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 in a news statement.
Judge Morris is the latest jurist to block Mr. Trump's initiatives under administrative-law rule, claiming that his officials have cut corners in administrative processes to make political decisions.