GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Conservation and landowners groups filed their opening brief this week in their federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The groups are suing the Army Corps of Engineers over what they believe were its failure to adequately analyze the project’s effects on local waterways, lands, wildlife and communities along its 1,200-mile route.
The filing comes in the wake of a pipeline spill from the Keystone pipeline system that TC Energy is hoping to expand with Keystone XL.
Reports this week revealed that the spill, which leaked more than 380,000 gallons of tar sands into a North Dakota wetland, affected almost 10 times as much land as originally reported.
Late last year, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled that the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws by issuing a permit for Keystone XL without adequately evaluating critical information on the pipeline’s environmental impacts, including tar sands oil spills and climate change.
The brief makes the case that the Army Corps’ streamlined permitting process for oil pipelines — called “Nationwide Permit 12” — and its use of that process for the Keystone XL pipeline suffers from similar flaws, allowing Keystone XL to be constructed through hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands without proper evaluation of the project’s impacts, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
“Given all the risks of tar sands spills in our waterways, our nation must uphold the laws and processes in place to protect our natural resources. The courts are our last line of defense as laws are ignored by the Trump administration,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder.
“This latest spill from the Keystone pipeline highlights yet again the recklessness of giving TC Energy free rein to run dirty tar sands through hundreds of waterways,” said Doug Hayes, Sierra Club senior attorney. “The Army Corps’ refusal to consider the risks this pipeline poses to wildlife and clean water isn’t just irresponsible — it’s illegal.”
“The Keystone XL pipeline is a clear threat to healthy land and clean water for farming, ranching, rural and tribal communities in Montana and beyond, as witnessed by the recent spill suffered by our neighbors in North Dakota,” said Dena Hoff, Northern Plains member and farmer in Glendive, Montana. “Given how irresponsible Canadian pipeline owner TC Energy has been with existing legs of Keystone, all Americans should be concerned by these illegal efforts to ram through permits for an even larger pipeline without proper risk analysis.”