Environmental Groups Sue Trump Administration for Approving Keystone XL


WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - Several environmental groups filed lawsuits against the Trump administration on Thursday to challenge its decision to approve construction of TransCanada Corp's controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

In two separate filings to a federal court in Montana, environmental groups argued that the U.S. State Department, which granted the permit needed for the pipeline to cross the Canadian border, relied on an "outdated and incomplete environmental impact statement" when making its decision earlier this month.

By approving the pipeline without public input and an up-to-date environmental assessment, the administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act, groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and the Northern Plains Resource Council said in their legal filing.

"They have relied on an arbitrary, stale, and incomplete environmental review completed over three years ago, for a process that ended with the State Department’s denial of a cross-border permit," the court filing says.

In the other filing, the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance sought injunctive relief, restraining Transcanada from taking any action that would harm the "physical environment in connection with the project pending a full hearing on the merits."

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the presidential permit for the Keystone XL at the White House last week. TransCanada's Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions, stood nearby.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

His Democratic predecessor, former president Barack Obama, rejected the pipeline, saying it would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists.

"This tar sands pipeline poses a direct threat to our climate, our clean water, wildlife, and thousands of landowners and communities along the route of this dirty and dangerous project, and it must and will be stopped," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit.

The lawsuits came on the heels of a lawsuit filed on Wednesday challenging other recent moves to undo Obama's climate change regulations.

Conservation groups and the Northern Cheyenne Native American tribe of Montana sued the administration on Wednesday for violating the National Environmental Policy Act when it lifted a moratorium on coal leases on federal land.

All lawsuits have been filed in U.S. District Court in Montana’s Great Falls Division.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Marguerita Choy)


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steve G  |  April 01, 2017
I am sure that the protesters and environmental clubs have the best intentions, however they are out of step with reality. All that is needed is to follow the money. We pump oil from areas where there is little access to monitor, ship it across our oceans, unload it where a large portion of our seafood comes from, then load the boats down with sea water to make the trip back empty (this will be dumped into our oceans before reloading) ... The truth is that without the pipeline, the oil flows to our refineries anyway, by rail, by truck and by a network of existing, old and questionable pipelines...When you include the environmental and human damage done by the current system, how is this really dirty oil?
David Thompson  |  March 31, 2017
A three year old assessment is stale? I don't think much has happened in Montana in the last 3 years, much less the last 50 years. These whiners and complainers are people who've never been to the area they're defending. Ive worked Eastern Montana and the only thing between there and the North Pole is a half dozen barbed wire fences. The only part of Montana you see on TV is the West end which is gorgeous. We're talking about semi-desert grassland, not that luscious green stuff, the brown stuff where a cow and calf need a square mile to survive. I've done Montana and the Dakotas, Nebraska panhandle, Kansas, Eastern Colorado and these people do not have a clue as to what they are talking about. We're not talking about destroying wilderness areas, scenic beauty or any of that, were talking about putting a pipeline underground with everything reclaimed with very little sign of it above ground. I know, I've worked that territory for 37 years. I may live in Texas, but I still have a Wyoming drivers license.