(Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)

Bold Alliance Leads New Federal Challenge to Keystone XL Over Faulty Review by BLM

Construction through water crossings remains blocked; groups challenge approval for construction on federal land based on insufficient reviews

Great Falls, MT — Conservation and landowner groups filed a new lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to be constructed on federal lands.

Pipeline construction through waterways remains blocked following last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which declined to allow Keystone XL to proceed under a key water crossing permit called Nationwide Permit 12, granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to Nationwide Permit 12, Keystone XL had also been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to cross approximately 44 miles of federal public lands in Montana. Today’s lawsuit challenges that approval and underlying review by BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The complaint alleges that these agencies’ reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act are riddled with the same errors and omissions as earlier versions deemed insufficient by a federal court in 2018. The lawsuit also challenges BLM’s approval–made in reliance on flawed data and outdated spill response plans–under federal land management statutes.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana by Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. The filing is the latest in a series of hurdles facing Keystone XL, including several other legal challenges, oil market chaos, and a recent commitment by Joe Biden to rescind the pipeline’s permit should he be elected president. The Indigenous Environmental Network, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation are also leading pending challenges to Keystone XL in the same court.

“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 Bold Alliance founder Jane Kleeb. “We will never back down after ten years of standing together to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ livelihoods and our clean water, beloved endangered species like the whooping crane in Nebraska, and a livable climate for our grandchildren.”

“The Keystone XL project was never in the public interest, yet this administration continues to flaunt key environmental laws in its effort to promote the dirty and dangerous pipeline” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The project would be devastating for the people and wildlife in its path, and regulators have repeatedly failed to fully address its environmental risks, including from oil spills. We will continue to fight this blatant attempt to disregard Keystone XL’s true impacts.”

“Construction of the polluting Keystone XL pipeline would be devastating for the tribes, farmers and communities along its route,” said Friends of the Earth Legal Director Marcie Keever. “Those on the frontlines of dirty fossil fuel projects deserve a comprehensive environmental review to understand how those pipelines will impact their health and our environment. Like every action from the Trump Administration, this is another attempt to ignore environmental and health concerns to curry favor with corporate polluters. Blocking this pipeline will help stop this administration’s ongoing corruption.”

“Despite repeatedly losing in court, the Trump administration just doesn’t get it,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Jackie Prange. “Its latest approvals to try to greenlight the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline are just as flawed and illegal as those previously struck down by the courts. We will fight to defeat them, and to ensure this threat to our water, people, wildlife and climate is never built.”

“As the courts have found time and again, the Trump administration has consistently cut corners and skirted the law in order to ram through approval of Keystone XL,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “This project is stalled because it would be a disaster for clean water, wildlife, the climate, and public lands, and there’s simply no way to approve it without ignoring bedrock environmental laws. This approval by the Bureau of Land Management is no exception, and the court should reject it.”


Bold Alliance et al. v. U.S. Dept of Interior & FWS