The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192,
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
Erin Jensen, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0722,
Jake Thompson, NRDC, (301) 602-3627,
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626,

Keystone XL Faces New Legal Challenge Over Faulty Federal Review

Conservation and landowner groups

Great Falls, MT

Conservation and landowner groups filed a new lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration's approval of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline to be constructed on federal lands.

Pipeline construction through waterways remains blocked following last week's ruling by the Supreme Court, which declined to allow Keystone XL to proceed under Nationwide Permit 12, a key water-crossing permit granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition to Nationwide Permit 12, Keystone XL had also been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to cross approximately 44 miles of federal public lands in Montana. Today's lawsuit challenges that approval and underlying review by the Bureau and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The complaint asserts that these agencies' reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act are riddled with the same errors and omissions as earlier versions deemed insufficient by a federal court in 2018. The lawsuit also challenges the Bureau's approval -- made in reliance on flawed data and outdated spill-response plans -- under federal land-management statutes.

"The Trump administration keeps trying to fast-track and rubber-stamp the boondoggle Keystone XL pipeline project, but they keep losing 'bigly' every time we take them to court," said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Alliance. "We will never back down after 10 years of standing together to protect farmers' and ranchers' livelihoods and our clean water, beloved endangered species like the whooping crane in Nebraska, and a livable climate for our grandchildren."

"The Keystone XL project was never in the public interest, and the administration continues to flout key environmental laws to promote this dirty and dangerous pipeline," said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The project would be devastating for the people and wildlife in its path, and regulators have repeatedly failed to fully address its environmental risks, including from oil spills. We'll continue fighting this blatant attempt to disregard Keystone XL's true risks."

"Construction of the polluting Keystone XL pipeline would be devastating for the tribes, farmers and communities along its route," said Marcie Keever, legal director of Friends of the Earth. "Those on the frontlines of dirty fossil fuel projects deserve a comprehensive environmental review to understand how those pipelines will impact their health and our environment. Like every action from the Trump administration, this is another attempt to ignore environmental and health concerns to curry favor with corporate polluters. Blocking this pipeline will help stop this administration's ongoing corruption."

"Despite repeatedly losing in court, the Trump administration just doesn't get it," said Jackie Prange, an NRDC senior attorney. "Its latest approvals to try to greenlight the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline are just as flawed and illegal as those previously struck down by the courts. We will fight to defeat them, and to ensure this threat to our water, people, wildlife and climate is never built."

"As the courts have found time and again, the Trump administration has consistently cut corners and skirted the law in order to ram through approval of Keystone XL," said Doug Hayes, a senior attorney at Sierra Club. "This project is stalled because it would be a disaster for clean water, wildlife, the climate and public lands, and there's simply no way to approve it without ignoring bedrock environmental laws. This approval by the Bureau of Land Management is no exception, and the court should reject it."

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana by Bold Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. The filing is the latest in a series of hurdles facing Keystone XL, including several other legal challenges, oil-market chaos, and a recent commitment by Joe Biden to rescind the pipeline's permit should he be elected president. The Indigenous Environmental Network, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation are also leading pending challenges to Keystone XL in the same court.

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.

(520) 623-5252