Lawsuit Seeks Public Records on Keystone XL’s Impacts on Whooping Cranes, Piping Plovers, Other Endangered Species

For Immediate Release

Lawsuit Seeks Public Records on Keystone XL’s Impacts on Whooping Cranes, Piping Plovers, Other Endangered Species

State Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Stonewalling Public Efforts to Identify Full Impacts of Disastrous Pipeline

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Department to obtain public records that reveal how the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project will affect migratory birds and endangered species, including whooping cranes. Nearly 10 months ago the Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Keystone’s “migratory bird conservation plan” and survey data specifically referenced in the agency’s environmental analysis. Although the analysis has been made public, the agencies have refused to release the documents that underpin the review.

The records that the Center requested would reveal to the public – for the first time – the specific areas where the pipeline could result in severe impacts to some of North America’s most imperiled wildlife.

“It’s revealing that the agencies are doing their best to withhold critical information from the public on Keystone XL’s potential impacts to endangered species,” said Jared Margolis, an attorney for the Center who focuses on the impacts of energy development on endangered species. “There’s every reason to believe Keystone XL will have disastrous impacts on whooping cranes, piping plovers and other protected species. You can only assume that’s why they’re withholding these key documents – to prevent us from fully assessing these impacts, or the agency’s claims to the contrary.”

Keystone XL, a 1,200 mile-long, highly-controversial pipeline project that would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to a terminal in Steel City, Neb., would include hundreds of miles of new power lines that will present dozens of new collision hazards for cranes as well as perches for birds that prey on endangered interior least terns and piping plovers.

“The public has a right to know the toll Keystone XL will have on endangered species,” said Margolis. “The government should stop playing games and provide this information immediately.”

An analysis by the Center last year found that at least 12 threatened and endangered species in four states will be put in harm’s way by Keystone, including whooping cranes, interior least terns, American burying beetles, northern swift fox, greater sage grouse, piping plovers, pallid sturgeons and black-footed ferrets. Threats include habitat destruction, bird deaths from power line collisions and oil spills.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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