A Montana judge's decision to vacate water permits for the Keystone XL pipeline still stands for now. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an immediate administrative stay pending appeal of the Montana ruling. But the appeals court has agreed to expedite the issue.
Preconstruction of the Keystone XL pipeline had already started when Montana Federal Judge Brian Morris put a stop to water crossings. He ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act by not adequately considering potential harm to listed species or habitat.
Morris initially vacated the use of Nationwide Permit 12 in its entirety. That's a fast-track permit for projects not likely to have much effect on water habitats. Earlier this week, the judge amended that order to apply only to construction of new oil and gas pipelines.
The Ninth Circuit has set a May 22 deadline for briefs from all parties.