In Oral Arguments, Groups Fight Back Against Trump’s Attempt to Throw out Keystone XL Lawsuit

Motions from Administration and TransCanada Attempt to Skirt Accountability Under Environmental Laws

GREAT FALLS, MONT. — Today, environmental and landowner groups argued in opposition to an attempt by the Trump administration and Canadian oil giant TransCanada to dismiss a lawsuit against the administration for approving a cross-border permit for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without complying with environmental laws.

The lawsuit was filed in March by the Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club. It challenged the State Department’s inadequate and outdated environmental review of the pipeline, which relied on an old environmental impact statement from January 2014 and failed to consider key information on the project’s impacts.

In motions filed in June, the State Department and TransCanada argued that, in approving the pipeline, State was not required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of our bedrock environmental laws which requires that government actions be reviewed based on their environmental impacts.

As oral arguments took place today, a crowd rallied outside the courthouse in opposition to the pipeline and the administration and TransCanada’s attempts to skirt the legally required review process.

“This is about protecting our water. Keystone XL would go under the Yellowstone River about 13 miles upstream from my farm. I’ve already dealt with one major oil spill in the river near my property, and the impacts to me and my community were significant,” said Dena Hoff, a Glendive, Montana farmer and past chair of Northern Plains Resource Council impacted by the 2015 Bridger Pipeline spill. “Our country deserves a thorough and accurate review of the impacts of Keystone XL. The pipeline would go under major rivers, streams, irrigation canals, and more. And without clean water, we have nothing.”

“Our environmental laws exist to protect the American people, and though they seem to think otherwise, this administration is not above complying with the law,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “Keystone XL would threaten our land, water, wildlife, and climate. The communities being threatened by this tar sands pipeline deserve a full accounting of its impacts, and the law requires it. The court should not allow federal agencies to flout the law for the benefit of a foreign oil company.”

“Any project that threatens the livelihood and drinking water of Americans should be subject to a current, updated and thorough environmental review,” said Hannah Adams, deputy director of Bold Alliance. “There is no reason why the Keystone XL pipeline, which would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, the Sandhills of Nebraska, and the migratory route of the endangered and iconic whooping crane, should move forward without a current review of its potential environmental impacts.”

“Keystone XL is just another Trump administration effort to ruin our health and environment for corporate profit,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity‘s energy and endangered species campaign. “We’ll continue the fight to ensure regulators don’t ignore the immense harm Keystone would cause to our climate and the lands and waterways that people and wildlife rely on.”

“Building Keystone XL will worsen the climate crisis, poison our waters and threaten the health of all Americans,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “This illegal pipeline will impact communities and the long-term safety of our climate. We cannot allow the Trump administration to pretend it is above the law and permit it to move forward with this dangerous and destructive project.”

“The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would endanger our water and land, and drive up carbon pollution, making climate change worse and jeopardizing our future,” said Jackie Prange, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s not a plan to help our country. It’s about big profits for big oil—and big pollution for the rest of us. It should never be built.”

Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org