Coalition of environmental groups to challenge Keystone XL pipeline permit

Coalition of environmental groups to challenge Keystone XL pipeline permit

Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club sued the U.S. Department of State and other agencies on Thursday in Montana federal court alleging that the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline revived by President Donald J. Trump was faulty, arguing it was in violation of federal law and should be halted.

“This announcement is part of a new era for American energy policy that will lower costs for American families. reduce our dependence on foreign oil (apparently rolling Canadian heavy crude into his evaluation of what constitutes USA oil) and create thousands of jobs, ” he said.

Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, said "The Keystone XL pipeline is nothing more than a dirty and unsafe proposal that's time has passed".

Among the groups filing one of the suits in federal district court were the Northern Plains Resource Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.

TransCanada, a Calgary-based company, wants to build it to carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The coalition say that an environmental review of the pipeline, completed in 2014, is inadequate and outdated and that it minimizes or ignores significant environmental impacts of the project.

The White House has defended the exemption by claiming that Keystone does not qualify as a "new" pipeline since it was proposed years ago and stopped by the Obama administration. At that point it will connect to an existing pipeline network that will transport oil to the Gulf of Mexico region. The Department of State Record of Decision and National Interest Determination that accompanied the March 24 permit notes that "there have been numerous developments related to global action to address climate change" and that "in this changed global context, a decision to approve [Keystone XL] at this time would not undermine USA objectives in this area".

Under President Obama, the State Department took years deliberating over the Keystone XL permit before ruling in 2015 that the pipeline was contrary to national interests, such as combating global warming. I am glad President Trump approved construction of the pipeline, and am thankful to see our government prioritizing the nation's security - finally making it possible to stop relying on Middle Eastern nations to meet America's energy needs. "We stand against eminent domain for private gain", said Ken Winston, attorney for Bold Alliance. The groups are seeking injunctive relief, restraining pipeline company TransCanada from taking any action that would harm the "physical environment in connection with the project pending a full hearing on the merits".

Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "The Keystone XL pipeline will spill oil, pollute our drinking water, push us deeper into the climate crisis and drive wildlife closer to the brink of extinction".

He noted that some tough battles loom before the Nebraska Public Service Commission where landowners are waging a battle to protect their properties, but made no mention of threats by Indian tribes to mount a repeat of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.