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Janell Cole, Published May 15 2008

Judge denies stay of Keystone construction

UPDATED 1:16 P.M. - BISMARCK — TransCanada can start construction this month of its North Dakota segment of the Keystone crude oil pipeline through eastern North Dakota, a judge ruled this morning.

South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty denied a request by the Dakota Resource Council and several landowners who asked her to stay the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s Feb. 21 order approving the Keystone route.

The 30-inch-diameter line is to be buried through eastern North Dakota, a 218-mile long segment stretching from near Walhalla and to near Cogswell as it carries Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries in Illinois.

DRC and the landowners requested the stay as part of their appeal of the route permit. They said they would suffer irreparable injury if construction begins while the appeal is pending.

But DRC and the landowners had to convince the judge that they are likely to prevail on the appeal in order for her to grant the stay, and Hagerty said that wasn’t the case.

“Keystone is likely to prevail in (DRC’s) appeal of the commission’s decision,” she wrote, citing the PSC’s 125 findings of fact and eight conclusions of law in its route permit for the line.