Appeals Court Upholds Order Blocking Keystone XL Water Crossing Permit


Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, 914-261-4626, 

Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054, 

Jake Thompson, NRDC, (301) 602-3627, 

Erin Jensen, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0722,  

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192,  

Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 850-6227,

San Francisco, CA -- Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit left in place a district court decision blocking a key water crossing permit for Keystone XL and other oil and gas pipelines while a full appeal of the decision moves forward. 

In April, the US District Court in Montana ruled that the Trump administration’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, vacating the permit for Keystone XL and prohibiting the Corps from using this fast-tracked approval process for other pipeline projects. The Army Corps had pushed to allow approval for pipeline construction to continue during its appeal of the ruling in the Ninth Circuit, but construction of Keystone XL and other major pipelines through rivers, streams, and wetlands will remain on hold as that appeal is heard. 

TC Energy also faces additional roadblocks to completing Keystone XL, amid other legal challenges, oil market chaos, and a recent commitment by Joe Biden to rescind the pipeline’s permit should he be elected president. 

“The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in their relentless pursuit of seeing Keystone XL built, and it would have been unconscionable to allow this pipeline to be built through rivers, streams, and wetlands while it remains tied up in court,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “We’re glad to see the court recognize the threat this dirty, dangerous pipeline poses to communities, wildlife, and clean drinking water along its route, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure it is blocked for good.” 

"The courts have consistently stopped the Trump administration's attempts to ignore our environmental laws and put endangered species and wildlife habitat at risk, all for the benefit of a foreign corporation's tarsands export pipeline," said Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb. "We are glad the court sees the great harm that could come from allowing any construction while this key water crossing permit has been vacated."

“This decision again confirms the importance of protecting the most vulnerable wildlife from the devastating threats of fossil fuel pipeline development,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Contrary to what the Trump administration has argued, the law is clear. We won’t sacrifice imperiled species so giant corporations can profit from the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate.”

"The court’s decision today buys some time for our environment, but its future remains in jeopardy,” said Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth. “We will continue to fight against this administration’s stubborn insistence to build the toxic, climate destroying Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Keystone XL would have a devastating effect on communities, wildlife and the climate - and those impacts should be carefully considered in all permitting decisions,” said Cecilia Segal, attorney for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “If that analysis is based on science and facts, pipelines like Keystone XL will never see the light of day because they remain, and always will be, a dire threat to our planet.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline threatens our water, climate, and the rural and tribal communities who depend on these irreplaceable resources,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains member and Glendive, MT rancher. “We are glad the court is not allowing construction to proceed over so many of these vulnerable waterways given KXL’s Canadian owners have never proven they can meet legal standards for this dangerous pipeline.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, 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