Keystone XL Pipeline Opponents Submit New Legal Challenge

Keystone XL Pipeline Opponents Submit New Legal Challenge

  • Environmentalists asked a federal judge to cancel approvals issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, opening another front in the legal fight over a long-delayed energy project that President Donald Trump has tried to push through to completion.
  • Attorneys for the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club, and other groups filed the latest lawsuit against the $8 billion tar sands pipeline in Montana, where they’ve previously won favorable rulings in related cases.
  • A separate lawsuit challenging the president’s actions on the permit is pending in federal court. Monday’s lawsuit gives pipeline opponents another avenue to delay or stop it, should Trump’s permit be upheld.

First proposed in 2008, Keystone XL was rejected by President Barack Obama but revived under Trump. An appeals court lifted an injunction that had blocked construction. That came after Trump issued a new permit for the project in a bid to nullify a legal challenge that had been based on a previous permit from his administration.

The environmentalists claim the Army Corps did not examine the potential for oil spills and other environmental damages when it approved plans submitted by pipeline developer TC Energy. The line would cross hundreds of waterways along a 1,184-mile path from Canada to Nebraska.

Almost all the crossings fall under an Army Corps program that gives blanket approval to individual pieces of a bigger project without considering the potential cumulative impacts, according to the lawsuit.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys defended the Trump administration’s handling of the pipeline in legal papers filed Friday in the presidential permit lawsuit.

Referring to Obama’s decision to block the project over climate change concerns, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Lawrence VanDyke said Trump enjoys “broad authority to revisit, reverse and undo prior decisions.” He asked the judge to dismiss the case.

TC Energy, until recently known as TransCanada, said prior to the injunction being lifted that it was too late in the construction season to begin work on the line this year.