Pipeline construction through waterways remains blocked following last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which declined to allow Keystone XL to proceed under a key water crossing permit called Nationwide Permit 12.
That permit was granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to Nationwide Permit 12, Keystone XL also had been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to cross approximately 44 miles of federal public lands in Montana.
A new lawsuit challenges that approval and underlying review by BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The complaint alleges 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, said Mark Hefflinger, digital and communications director for Bold Alliance.
The lawsuit also challenges BLM’s approval — made in reliance on flawed data and outdated spill response plans — under federal land management statutes, Hefflinger said.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana by Bold Alliance, 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.
TC Energy spokesman Terry Cunha said the company is not giving up on Keystone, but it will have to delay large portions of the 1,200-mile oil sands pipeline. The company started construction two weeks ago on a 329-mile section of the line in Alberta. That work will continue while the company wages its court fight in the U.S., Cunha said.
The Indigenous Environmental Network, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation also are leading pending challenges to Keystone XL in the same court.
“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, Bold Alliance founder. “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.”
Jared Margolis, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Keystone XL project was never in the public interest, yet the current administration continues to flaunt key environmental laws in its effort “to promote the dirty and dangerous pipeline.”
“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 will continue to fight this blatant attempt to disregard Keystone XL’s true impacts,” Margolis said.
“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.