New Lawsuit Challenges Keystone XL Permits

Jul 2, 2019

A coalition of conservation groups on Monday sued to stop construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Northern Plains Resource Council, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups sued in federal court, alleging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly approved and issued a permit granting water crossings for the Keystone XL Pipeline, including nearly 200 in Montana.

They argue the Corps failed to assess the direct, indirect and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed pipeline’s multiple water crossings. They say that violates the National Environmental Policy and Clean Water Acts.

Glendive Farmer Dena Hoff is a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

"There's no transparency, there's no comprehensive review that's required for major projects like this. So they approved the route completely, secretly, without ever evaluating the risks of tar sands spills into waterways," says Hoff.

Monday’s lawsuit targets Nationwide Permit 12, which grants blanket approval to larger projects without requiring environmental analysis of potential cumulative impacts, according to the lawsuit.

It asks the court to cancel the Army Corps permit and block construction of the pipeline.

Neither the Corps nor Pipeline developer TC Energy responded to requests for comment before deadline.

Northern Plains and co-plaintiffs won a construction injunction last November when a federal judge in Montana ruled the U.S. State Department hadn’t adequately studied KXL’s impact on climate, markets and the environment. The State Department is currently supplementing an environmental review.

Then in March, the Trump Administration issued a new presidential permit for the project, rendering the previous lawsuit and injunction moot. Tribal and environmental groups are challenging the legality of the new permit as TC Energy solicits bids from companies hoping to use the pipeline.

On Monday, Governor Steve Bullock, who’s vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, said he's open to supporting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline "if it's done right."