Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ONE DAY left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Opponents of the Keystone XL

Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines protest President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Lafayette Park next to the White House in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 24, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

'Trump Is Not Above the Law': New Lawsuit Aims to Defeat Keystone XL

"We won't stop fighting Trump's underhanded attempt to dodge the courts and ram this dirty fossil fuel project down America's throat."

Jessica Corbett

As climate scientists on Monday issued a fresh warning about the devastating consequences of continuing to burn and extract fossil fuels, national green groups filed a new federal lawsuit targeting the Trump administration's efforts to force through the long-delayed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

"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."
—Doug Hayes, Sierra Club

The lawsuit (pdf) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, the same court that halted construction on the dirty energy project last year, ruling that the administration hadn't adequately considered the consequences of the pipeline when approving it. In response, President Donald Trump revoked the initial permit and issued a new one in March.

"After we won in court, Trump tried to skirt the law," Jackie Prange, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said in a statement Monday. "But as this new lawsuit shows, no president can, on a whim, unilaterally exempt the government from complying with our nation's bedrock environmental laws."

Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), vowed that opponents of the pipeline "won't stop fighting Trump's underhanded attempt to dodge the courts and ram this dirty fossil fuel project down America's throat."

The NRDC and CBD joined with Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Bold Alliance, and Northern Plains Resource Council in launching the new legal battle, which specifically challenges the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of the pipeline that would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily across nearly 1,200 miles from Canada's Alberta tar sands to Steele City, Nebraska.

"The Army Corps' lack of transparency in their review process for the Keystone XL pipeline is deeply disturbing," said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. "On such a major project, the communities who are on the front lines deserve a comprehensive environmental review to protect themselves and our environment. Rubber-stamping Trump's attempt to build the dirty Keystone XL pipeline behind closed doors is devastating for the farmers, tribes, and communities along its route."

Rubber-stamping Trump's attempt to build the dirty Keystone XL pipeline behind closed doors is devastating for the farmers, tribes, and communities along its route."
—Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth

The green groups collectively warned in a joint statement that "construction activities and spills from the pipeline would threaten protected species like the pallid sturgeon, the American burying beetle, and the critically endangered whooping crane, which remains at the brink of extinction."

"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," added Bold Alliance founder Jane Kleeb.

In addition to filing suit Monday, the groups also sent notices to the Army Corps, Trump, companies that would construct power lines for Keystone XL's pump stations, and TC Energy—the pipeline company formerly called TransCanada—informing each recipient that their actions related to the project violate the law. The notices set up an opportunity for future legal action under the Endangered Species Act.

"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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·


Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·


NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·


Texas Panel Denounced Over Attempt to Rebrand Slavery as 'Involuntary Relocation'

One progressive group called the proposal "a blatant attempt to whitewash history to fit a racist worldview."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo