Quantcast

Lawsuit Challenges Illegal Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

Energy

Friends of the Earth

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

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less