Shutdown shouldn't stop Keystone XL Pipeline hearing, attorneys say

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Justice Department attorneys and the Canadian company behind the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline say the U.S. government shutdown shouldn't delay a court hearing on a judge's decision to halt construction.

Justice Department attorney Bridget McNeil said in a court filing Monday that government lawyers are prohibited from working except in emergencies during the shutdown. But, she adds, federal attorneys' participation in the hearing next Monday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls isn't necessary.

TransCanada attorneys previously told U.S. District Judge Brian Morris the company is prepared to hold the hearing without the government being represented.

In November, Morris ordered an injunction prohibiting pipeline construction activities. TransCanada plans to argue the order should be stayed while an appeal is pending with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.