Ben Cowan, a Partner in the Firm’s Environmental Section, was quoted by The Associated Press on the impact of a federal court decision to throw out a blanket permit, known as Nationwide Permit 12, that companies and public utilities have used for decades to build projects across streams and wetlands. The decision led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to suspend a nationwide program that approves oil and gas pipelines, power lines and other utility work. Cowan said, “The economic consequences to individual projects are hard to overstate. It could be fatal to a number of projects under construction if they are forced to stop work for an extended period in order to obtain individual permits.”
The ruling was made in Montana district court in a lawsuit involving the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and it is expected that the Trump administration will challenge the ruling in the coming days. Cowan noted that he anticipates government attorneys will move quickly to file an appeal or a request with U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to clarify his ruling. He continued, “The fact that this case involves the Keystone pipeline will almost certainly elevate its profile within the administration.”
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