Federal Lawsuit Challenging Keystone XL Approval Will Move Forward

Court Stops Trump Administration From Flouting Environmental Laws

Gabby Brown, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

Jared Margolis, (802) 310-4054, jmargolis@biologicaldiversity.org

Jackie Prange, (415) 875-6181, jprange@nrdc.org

Mark Hefflinger, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org   

Dena Hoff, (406) 248-1154  


Great Falls, MT -- Today, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit brought by environmental and landowner groups over the Trump administration’s approval of the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline can proceed. The decision rejects attempts by the administration and TransCanada, the company behind the proposed pipeline, to have the lawsuit thrown out.

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 the Sierra Club. It challenged the U.S. Department of State’s and other agencies’ inadequate and outdated environmental review of the pipeline, which relied on a dated environmental impact statement from January 2014 and failed to consider key information on the project’s impacts. In motions filed in June, the administration and TransCanada argued that, in approving the pipeline, the administration was not required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Endangered Species Act (ESA), two of America’s bedrock environmental laws. In its ruling today, the court rejected the administration’s argument that presidential authority bars judicial review of the approvals.

Earlier this week, the Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected TransCanada’s preferred route for the pipeline through the state, instead approving an alternative route, which has not been studied by the federal government for its environmental impact. This development makes it all the more important that a new environmental review be conducted on the project.  

“Once again, the courts are serving as a critical backstop against this administration’s attempts to flout the law for the benefit of corporate polluters,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “The American people will not stand by as the administration tries to bypass critical environmental laws that exist to protect our land and our clean water. Keystone XL is a threat to our land, water, wildlife, and climate, and we will continue fighting, in the courts and in the streets, to ensure that it is never built.”

“This is a key step toward holding the Trump administration accountable for recklessly approving this dirty and incredibly dangerous pipeline,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Keystone would be a catastrophe for endangered wildlife and our climate, and we'll keep fighting until it's dead and buried.”

"Our environmental laws should never be undercut by the interests of a private foreign company, and the court's decision today solidifies that. Keystone XL directly threatens the land, water and livelihood of all Nebraskans, and we’re confident the courts will continue to side with those who the laws protect, and not with corporate interests," said Hannah Adams, deputy director of Bold Alliance.

“Our concerns about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline were validated today. Judge Morris ruled against TransCanada’s and the Government’s motion to dismiss our case. We continue our commitment to stop this pipeline once and for all, to protect Montana’s land, water, and people,” said Dena Hoff, landowner and spokesperson for Northern Plains Resource Council.  

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.