Environmentalists added a challenge to the stalled Keystone XL pipeline project yesterday with a lawsuit saying spills from the pipeline would harm endangered species such as the whooping crane and pallid sturgeon.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and other groups filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana against the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, saying the agencies should not have approved the pipeline.
BLM in January authorized pipeline developer TC Energy Corp. to cross 44 miles of federal public lands in Montana. The lawsuit challenges the BLM review and the underlying FWS review.
“The Trump administration keeps trying to fast-track and rubber-stamp the boondoggle Keystone XL pipeline project, but they keep losing ‘bigly’ every time we take them to court,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Alliance, which is also a plaintiff in the suit.
In 2018, environmental groups got a Montana federal judge to invalidate a State Department permit for the project to cross the Canadian border. The court found that the agency did not adequately study spill, climate and other impacts from the pipeline.
President Trump responded to that ruling by issuing a permit to replace the State Department authorization. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved an injunction by the Montana judge, allowing construction to proceed.
Yesterday’s lawsuit alleges the administration’s reviews under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act contain the same errors the judge found problematic in 2018.
The lawsuit also challenges BLM’s approval under federal land management statutes.
Most of Keystone XL’s 1,200-mile route is on private property, but the project would also traverse public land on its route linking western Canadian oil sands to Nebraska.
The green groups foreshadowed their legal action in February with a notice of intent to sue.
The Interior Department, which includes BLM and FWS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in response to the February notice of intent, Interior officials called the legal threat “frivolous.”
TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corp., did not respond to a request for comment.