April 16, 2020 | Law360 | 1 minute read

A Montana federal judge’s decision to block construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline may have far-reaching impact and set the court on a collision course with the Trump administration, which has vocally opposed such nationwide injunctions.

Nationwide Permit 12, which was vacated by US District Judge Brian Morris on April 15, 2020, is used by the Army Corps of Engineers to give streamlined approval to many infrastructure projects, from pipelines to telephone wires. By voiding the entire permit, the judge revoked permission for an unknown number of other projects across the country that are relying on it.

The Army Corps of Engineers and companies rely on Nationwide Permit 12 for projects, instead of the more labor-intensive and expensive Section 404 process, for good reason, Catherine D. Little tells Law360.

“The reason why the Corps issues them as frequently as they do is because they are appropriate for projects that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects,” she said. “So it’s certainly problematic that the order is as sweeping as it is, and it does not seem appropriate coming from a district court.”