Montana Conservation, Family Agriculture Group Files Lawsuit Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Mar 30, 2017

TransCanada, the parent company building the 1,200 mile pipeline, estimates that the Keystone XL will have approximately 11 spills over its lifetime; the Northern Plains Resource Council will has filed suit to protect Montana against that.
Credit (Flickr Photo/Shannon Patrick) (

Northern Plains Resource Council is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed today challenging the Trump Administration’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. A coalition of environmental groups are part of the lawsuit filed in federal district court in Great Falls.

Northern Plains is challenging the permit based on what they call “outdated and incomplete information” from a 2014 Environmental Impact Statement used to determine the pipeline’s threat to the health of water, land, and communities it crosses​.

*This story has been updated (11:40 a.m. Mar. 30, 2017) since original publication to attribute information on the 11 estimated Keystone Xl Pipeline spills to Dr. John Stansbury, Associate Chair of Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln; a response to his findings is available from TransCanada here.

Kate French, chairperson of the Northern Plains Resource Council, says renewable energy options are available in the U.S. and there's no need for Canadian crude oil.
Credit Northern Plains Resource Council

“As Montanans, we understand the importance of water,” said Kate French, chair of Northern Plains Resource Council, a Montana-based conservation and family farm group.

“We depend on our rivers and our groundwater for drinking, for irrigation, and for our biggest economies–agriculture, recreation, and tourism. A threat to our water is a threat to our most basic needs,” said French.

The Montana Liquid And Gas Pipeline Association approximates 15,000 miles of pipelines currently crisscross Montana, transporting natural gas, crude and other energy products every day.  

The additional 1,200-mile Kestyone XL would carry tar sands crude from Canadian Oil Fields through Montana and other states, down to the Texas gulf coast.

French worries tar sands spills will be harder to clean up than regular crude.

According to Dr. John Stansbury, Associate Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in a 2006 report to the EPA, TransCanada estimates that the Keystone XL pipeline will have 11 significant spills over its 50-year designed lifetime.  

French says the U.S. has domestic clean energy alternatives available right now, and there’s no need for Canadian crude oil.

"President Trump was wrong to approve Keystone XL," said French.

"That’s why today, along with a coalition of other organizations, we filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s issuance of Keystone XL’s Presidential Permit,” said French.

The Trump Administration granted the permit March 24, 2017.

TransCanada has been trying to win approval for the pipeline for nearly a decade.