Quantcast

Trump State Dept. Attempts 'Shortcut' to Build KXL Pipeline, Groups Say

Energy
350.org's No KeyStone XL Washington, DC march. John Duffy / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Environmentalists spoke out against President Donald Trump's State Department after it found "no significant environmental impacts" in its review of TransCanada's long-gestating Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.

The alternative route approved by Nebraska regulators in November would have "minor to moderate" impacts from its construction and operation, according to the 300-page draft report released Monday. It said the route would not have a major impact on the state's water resources, soils or wildlife. It may cause minor impacts on cultural resources such as Native American graves.


Once built, the $8 billion 1,180-mile pipeline will transport heavy crude from Alberta's tar sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The controversial project has been at the center of an environmental fight for a decade. President Obama rejected the KXL in 2015 partly due to concerns about its contribution to climate change, but President Trump reversed the decision just days into office.

In a press release, the Sierra Club said that Trump's approval of the KXL was based on an outdated Environmental Impact Statement from 2014 and accused the administration of short-cutting the permitting process.

"Once again, the Trump administration is attempting to take a shortcut around the legally required review process on Keystone XL, putting our communities at risk for the sake of propping up the Canadian tar sands industry," said Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Director Kelly Martin in a statement. "Keystone XL was a bad idea when it was proposed a decade ago, it was a bad idea when former President Obama rejected it, and it's an even worse idea now. This pipeline is a threat to our land, water, wildlife, communities, and climate, and we will continue fighting, in the courts and in the streets, to ensure that it is never built."

The group noted that in November, Nebraska regulators rejected TransCanada's preferred route for the pipeline. Instead, they voted for a new route that had not been assessed.

KXL opponents are now trying to block the State Department's approval of the pipeline "based on this insufficient analysis" in federal court, the Sierra Club said.

The press release added: "Rather than following the legally required process of preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before approving a project, the State Department is attempting to rush the project through by releasing an abbreviated Environmental Assessment on the new Nebraska route while leaving its permit in place, and still failing to conduct an adequate review of the project's climate impacts, harm to endangered species, or changes in oil prices and market forces since 2014."

Under a 2011 state law, Nebraska is not allowed to factor in pipeline safety or spill risks. Nebraska regulators did not factor in a 210,000-gallon spill from Transcanada's existing Keystone Pipeline on South Dakota farmland that happened just days before they voted on the KXL's alternative route.

TransCanada hopes to start KXL construction in the beginning of 2019.

"We will review the environmental assessment and provide comment to the Department of State as necessary," Matthew John, a TransCanada spokesman, told Bloomberg.

The State Department has opened its draft report of the Keystone XL Mainline Alternative Route for a 30-day public comment period.

Other environmentalists blasted the State Department's assessment.

"The Trump administration can't patch over its total failure to comply with the law by releasing this environmental assessment now, after Keystone XL has already been approved," said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement. "The dirty tar sands carried by this pipeline would have disastrous effects on our climate, land, and water. This project should have been rejected at the outset, and the administration should revoke the permit immediately."

Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, has similar sentiments.

"The Trump administration doesn't care about water or property rights," Kleeb stated. "Landowners, Tribal Nations and everyday citizens will continue to fight the Trump administration's illegal rubber-stamp of a permit for Keystone XL, and this illegal review that completely violated due process of affected landowners on the Mainline Alternative Route. The only right thing to do, would be to reject Keystone XL again."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Two Sherpa descending from Everest Base Camp, Himalayas, Khumbu, Nepal. Joel Addams / Aurora Photos / Getty Images

Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.

Read More Show Less
Navajo Generating Station, Arizona. Wolfgang Moroder / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.

A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.

A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.

For a deeper dive:

Arizona Republic, Indian Country Today, AP, WOKV, Farmington Daily Times

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Sponsored
Sir David Attenborough opens Woodberry Wetlands on April 30, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. Danny Martindale / WireImage

Beloved nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough will produce a new documentary for BBC One focused entirely on climate change, the network announced Friday.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian Barth

Looking to spice it up this year in the old vegetable patch?

Read More Show Less
An extended version of the Fuxing bullet train at the China National Railway Test Center on Oct. 15, 2018 in Beijing, China. VCG / VCG via Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

Is it just us?

Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Ocean Heroes Bootcamp

By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)

Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.

Read More Show Less

A major California avocado producer issued a voluntary recall of the popular fruit over concerns they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, USA Today reported.

Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.

Read More Show Less
Acting Secretary David Bernhardt visited Watson Hopper Inc., a manufacturer of rigs and oil drilling equipment in Hobbs, New Mexico on Feb. 6, 2019. Tami A. Heilemann / DOI

Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.

"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.

Read More Show Less