GREAT FALLS, Mont.— Conservation groups today expanded their federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s illegal approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The groups are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its streamlined approval of the pipeline, and today added claims challenging the Corps’ failure to ensure that endangered species would not be harmed by the project.
In late 2018 the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled that the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws by issuing a permit for Keystone XL without adequately evaluating critical information on the project’s environmental impacts, including tar sands oil spills and climate change.
Although Trump effectively circumvented that ruling by issuing a new permit in March, the fact remains that no federal agency has yet completed the requisite analysis.
Today’s filing expands on the federal lawsuit filed by the same groups in July, which challenged the Army Corps’ approval of the pipeline to be constructed through hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands without evaluating the project’s impacts. That evaluation is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.
“Regulators can’t ignore that Keystone XL will devastate waterways and protected species through oil spills and habitat destruction,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re still fighting Trump’s attempt to ram through this dirty fossil fuel project. This destructive pipeline should never get the chance to ruin clean water that’s crucial to people and endangered species.”
"Though he seems to think otherwise, Donald Trump is not above the law, and we won't allow him to endanger wildlife, clean water, and the climate to allow a Canadian company to move more tar sands through the United States," said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. "We've held off construction of Keystone XL for more than a decade, and we won't stop until this dirty tar sands proposal is put to rest for good."
“While Trump states over and over again the Keystone XL pipeline is already being built, those of us who live in the states know the reality and risks. Our scenic Niobrara River and the Platte River, where Sandhill and Whooping Cranes migrate, along with farmers’ water wells, are all at risk with this foreign, export pipeline. Trump may not believe in the rule of law, but we the people do, and we will take to the streets, courts and cornfields to ensure this pipeline is never built,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder.
“Trump’s continued attempts to build the dirty, water-polluting Keystone XL pipeline with a rubber stamp instead of full environmental review is deeply disturbing,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “On such a major project, the communities who are on the frontlines deserve a comprehensive environmental review to protect themselves, our environment, and endangered species. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would be devastating for the farmers, tribes and communities along its route. Stopping this pipeline will help put a stop to Trump’s ongoing corruption.”
“As our new claims show, the Trump administration has put the cart before the horse by approving this dirty pipeline before following federal law and ensuring it will not harm endangered species along the proposed route,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In fact, Keystone XL’s effects on species — just like its effects on water bodies, nearby communities, and the climate — would be devastating.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.