A federal district court has denied ongoing legal challenges to the Trump administration’s 2019 approval of TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline. 

Keystone XL

In separate orders handed down late last week, Chief District Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for Montana denied requests filed by tribal and environmental groups seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order for the controversial project.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance are challenging President Trump’s 2019 Presidential Permit authorizing Keystone to construct a cross-border segment of the pipeline, arguing Constitutional violations, among other things.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Community have also filed a lawsuit against the 2019 permit, citing treaty violations, as well as an alleged violation of the Constitution’s Foreign Commerce Clause.

In Friday’s orders, Morris wrote that the plaintiffs “fail at this juncture to show that they likely will succeed on the merits.” The plaintiffs further failed to show that the “preliminary relief” sought is necessary to avoid “irreparable injury,” according to the judge.

Decisions in the two cases could arrive by the end of the year or early 2021, according to analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, we would consider President Trump’s reelection and rulings from Judge Morris upholding the permits to be the best-case scenario” for Keystone XL, the ClearView analysts wrote in a note to clients Thursday.

Keystone XL, the fourth phase of TC Energy’s Keystone Pipeline System, is a 1,210-mile pipeline designed to deliver 830,000 b/d from Alberta in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to Nebraska. The project has long been mired in controversy and become the subject of heated political debate.

As the latest efforts to stop the project play out, TC has announced an agreement to negotiate ownership shares in the pipeline with five Canadian tribes.

Meanwhile, whatever happens in the Montana District Court, “dark clouds” still loom for the pipeline, according to ClearView.

“We think that completion of the project if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected would be meaningfully at risk even if Judge Morris were to uphold the permits,” they said.