TC Energy has built the first piece of the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline across the U.S. border and started work on labor camps in Montana and South Dakota but has yet to set a date to occupy them.
Environmentalists and Native American tribes are bitterly opposed to the line because of worries over oil spills and that burning the fuel would make climate change worse.
Work finally started in April at the border crossing in remote northern Montana. That 1.2-mile section has now been completed except for some site reclamation activity.
Montana officials have not yet received plans requested from the company to make sure it can prevent the camps from spreading the coronavirus, said Erin Loranger, a spokesperson for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. The state expects to receive the plans before the camps are occupied, she said.
The company's three-year construction timeline was put into doubt following a May 15 ruling from a federal judge in Montana that cancelled a key permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit is needed to build the line across hundreds of streams, wetlands and other water bodies along its route.
The ruling affected all new oil and gas pipeline construction and was appealed by the Trump administration and TC Energy.
“We look forward to a resolution that allows us to advance our construction in 2020 without any further delay," said Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for TC Energy.