Environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bold Alliance and the Sierra Club, filed suit against the federal government on March 30, seeking to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The suit, filed in federal district court in Montana, where the pipeline will cross the U.S.-Canadian border, claims the State Dept. illegally approved a presidential permit on March 24 that will allow the 1,200-mile TransCanada pipeline to be built.
“The Trump Administration broke the law by arbitrarily approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada Project in a statement.
The lawsuit follows one filed March 27 by the Indigenous Environmental Network in the same court that also challenged the State Dept. permit.
Both suits claim the March 24 decision to proceed is deficient because it is based on old information — a 2014 supplemental environmental impact statement.
“They have relied on an arbitrary, stale, and incomplete environmental review completed over three years ago, for a process that ended with the State Department’s denial of a cross border permit,” according to the suit filed by the environmental groups.
Stephan Volker, attorney for Indigenous Environmental Network and co-plaintiff the North Coast Rivers Alliance, says the EIS also fails to: provide a detailed and independent project purpose and need; analyze all reasonable effects; disclose and fully analyze the pipeline’s adverse environmental impacts; and respond adequately to comments.
“In addition, the FSEIS was irredeemably tainted because it was prepared by Environmental Resource Management ("ERM"), a company with a substantial conflict of interest, according to Volker. ERM previously did work for TransCanada, but a 2014 report from the State Dept. Inspector General found the selection of ERM to have been proper.
In addition to the court battles, TransCanada will have to win approval for the pipeline in Nebraska, where the $8-billion line doesn’t yet have an approved route. The state’s public service commission is expected to take until September to review a revised route. TransCanada submitted the revised route application in February. If approved, the pipeline operator would have to initiate eminent domain proceedings against the 10% of landowners who have refused to work with the company. An earlier court decision prohibits TransCanada from taking that action before September.