The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Lawsuit Challenges Illegal Keystone XL Pipeline Construction
The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Nebraska Resources Council and Friends of the Earth sued the State Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Oct. 5 to stop illegal construction of the Keystone XL pipeline—a sprawling, 1,700-mile project designed to transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas.
Although the State Department has not yet completed its review of the controversial project and last week held public meetings in Lincoln and Atkinson, Neb., that were attended by hundreds of citizens opposed to the project, the department and the Fish and Wildlife Service are already allowing TransCanada to clear the proposed pipeline route. The lawsuit challenges work that the company has started in Nebraska and cites the agencies for violating the National Environmental Policy Act, which prohibits commencement of a project before it has been approved.
“It’s outrageous that TransCanada is already clearing the way for the Keystone XL pipeline before the public has had a chance to have its say and, indeed, before federal agencies have even said it can be built,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It looks like the fix is in on this dangerous project, and the sham public process is nothing more than an afterthought.”
Quietly, the State Department and Fish and Wildlife Service have allowed TransCanada to mow a pipeline corridor through about 100 miles of native prairie grasslands in Nebraska’s Sandhills, and to remove endangered species living in the corridor.
In granting this permission, the State Department has provided proof that it is not truly committed to conducting the legally mandated environmental impact statement or the national interest determination in an impartial, science-based manner. State Department documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and made public Oct. 3 by Friends of the Earth also confirm a review process irrevocably tainted by department employees’ pro-pipeline bias and complicit relationships with industry executives.
“The State Department has further confirmed that it is running a corrupt review process by giving TransCanada a green light to begin construction,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “It makes a mockery of the public and sends a message to Nebraskans that their concerns don’t matter. If the State Department was truly doing its job, this lawsuit wouldn’t be necessary. President Obama must revoke the State Department’s authority to review the Keystone XL pipeline in order to restore the public’s trust.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil strip-mined from Canada’s tar sands across Nebraska’s legendary Sandhills and hundreds of rivers and streams. It will pass directly over the Ogallala Aquifer, which is a source of drinking water for millions of Americans and a major source of water for agriculture. TransCanada’s existing Keystone I tar sands pipeline has reportedly leaked 14 times since it went into operation in June 2010.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is a highly controversial project because of its tremendous impacts on our land, air, water and wildlife, and should not be approved,” said Bruce McIntosh, ecologist with the Western Nebraska Resources Council. “At the very least, construction of the pipeline route through the most controversial section should not be proceeding until a final decision is made, following public hearings and a determination of whether this pipeline is really in the national interest.”
For more information, click here.
The legal complaint filed Oct. 5 is available here.
Photos of the mowed pathway of the pipeline can be found here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.
By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.
By Mark Hertsgaard
The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."