FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2018

Contact:
NRDC: Jake Thompson, (202) 289-2387, jthompson@nrdc.org
Bold Nebraska: Mark Hefflinger, mark@boldnebraska.org
Sierra Club: Gabby Brown, (202) 495-3051, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Friends of the Earth: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

More than 189,000 Public Comments Submitted in Opposition to Keystone XL Pipeline, Sham Environmental Review Proposed by Trump Administration

Environmental and landowner groups submit public comments to State Department’s flawed proposal for “Environmental Assessment” of previously unsurveyed Mainline Alternative route in Nebraska

Washington – As of the midnight deadline on Monday, more than 189,000 public comments were submitted to the U.S. State Department in strong opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. They challenge the Trump Administration’s rubber-stamp approval of a federal permit and proposed sham environmental review for a dirty energy project that would abuse eminent domain, trample sovereign Native rights, and threaten our land, water and climate.

Comments were submitted individually, and also collected and delivered by environmental and local organizations including Sierra Club, Bold Nebraska, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oil Change International, ClimateTruth.org, 350.org, CREDO, Greenpeace USA, and Friends of the Earth U.S.

A detailed public comment was submitted by the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rubber-stamp approval of Keystone XL’s cross-border permit (see: Northern Plains v. Shannon). In their comments, the environmental and landowner organizations point out the numerous legal problems with the State Department’s decision to conduct the current analysis. They also reiterate the many arguments made in court challenging the illegal rubber stamp process the State Department used to approve Keystone XL’s cross-border permit. That process relied on a stale 2014 environmental review – in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act. The groups call for a more robust supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to be prepared for the entire project, including the new Mainline Alternative route in Nebraska, with the State Department coordinating as lead agency, as well as for public hearings to be held that include the newly affected landowners and communities in Nebraska.

(View the full plaintiffs’ scoping comments at this link:
http://boldnebraska.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2018/06/State-Dept-scoping-comments-6.25-final.pdf)

In addition, comments were submitted today by Nebraska landowners who live on the new “Mainline Alternative” route for KXL, who have been deprived of due process because they didn’t know before November 2017 that their property was on the route eventually approved by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC). The Mainline Alternative route is home to endangered species habitat and sensitive water bodies, and has never undergone any robust review of environmental or social impacts, or been the subject of any public hearings where affected landowners’ and communities’ concerns could be heard. The approval of this Mainline Alternative route is also subject to a pending court challenge brought by landowners, Tribes and environmental groups that is expected to be heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court in the fall of 2018.

QUOTE SHEET:

“Landowners in Nebraska who live on the proposed Keystone XL “Mainline Alternative” route just found out in November that this tarsands pipeline wants to cut through their farms and ranches, and never received any due process or public hearing to make their concerns heard. Meanwhile, this land that is home to endangered species habitat and sensitive water crossings has never undergone any substantial environmental review,” said Mark Hefflinger, Communications Director for Bold Alliance. “We’ll continue to challenge the Trump Administration’s attempt to pass off this sham environmental review for KXL in the courts, in these public comments, and with continued resistance on the ground from Tribes and landowners who stand united to protect the Ponca Trail of Tears and our precious Ogallala aquifer.”

“KXL was a bad idea from its inception. And it has gotten worse with time. No route for this dangerous project will ever be safe or protect tribal and community rights,” said Jackie Prange, Senior Attorney at NRDC. “The State Department’s newest attempt to cover over the Trump administration’s illegal rubber-stamp process won’t prevail. This project should be stopped now.”

“Trump tried to rubber stamp Keystone XL with the stroke of a pen, but we are fighting back with something much stronger: hundreds of thousands of people.” said Sara Shor, Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Manager at 350.org. “Keystone XL, like every other proposed fossil fuel project, is catastrophic for our communities, our water, and the climate. The resistance to Keystone XL is only growing stronger and we will stop it at the State Department, in the courts, or along the pipeline route.”

“As usual, the Trump administration seems to believe that they are above the law. They are trying to use this sham review to avoid complying with our bedrock environmental laws,” said Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “The American people deserve a full accounting of the risks of building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and we will continue to work to hold the Trump administration accountable to ensure that they get it.”

“Keystone XL was, is, and will always be a climate disaster,” said David Turnbull, Strategic Communications Director at Oil Change International. “President Trump and his Big Oil friends may try to ram this pipeline through but communities along the route and across the country remain steadfast in their opposition to this dirty, dangerous, unnecessary pipeline.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline was a terrible idea under Pres. Obama, and it’s an even worse idea now,” said Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action. “In recent years we’ve seen awful pipeline spills that we were told would never happen. We’ve seen even stronger science showing that dirty tar sands must be kept in the ground to protect our climate. Our movement stopped this pipeline project before and we’ll keep fighting until it’s been defeated for good.”

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State Dept Scoping Comments