Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska, 402-705-3622,

Bold Alliance, Environmental Groups File Opening Brief in Lawsuit Challenging Trump’s Rubber-Stamp Federal Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

Lawsuit challenges approval of pipeline permit by State Dept. and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before final route decided, with no updated environmental review

Lincoln — Bold Alliance and co-plaintiffs including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council on Friday submitted their opening brief in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rubber-stamp approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Whenever federal or state government short-circuits the review process, citizens will stand up for due process and the law. The Keystone XL pipeline was rejected twice already with science and landowners backing up the decision. The Trump Administration used the same reports that led to the pipeline being rejected, to now give the foreign, export pipeline a rubber-stamp approval,” said Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb.

The lawsuit argues that the U.S. State Dept. and Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) abdicated their duties under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the effects of Keystone XL on the environment, and asks the court to vacate the State Dept. and FWS approvals of the pipeline.

These agencies issued their approvals for KXL in early 2017 — before knowing the pipeline’s final route through Nebraska. Without that critical information, the agencies could not have possibly determined how the project would affect the local environment, and thus violated both NEPA and the ESA.

The agencies also violated NEPA by failing to prepare a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed pipeline, instead relying on an outdated environmental review from 2014 that ignores game-changing new information about oil prices, the feasibility of transporting tar sands by rail, and oil spills — like the massive 210,000-gallon spill on TransCanada’s own Keystone pipeline in South Dakota in 2017.

Back in November, U.S. District Judge U.S. District Judge Brian Morris rejected TransCanada’s and the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss our case, finding our arguments bore enough merit to be heard at trial. Oral arguments in the case are now scheduled to be heard on May 24th.

Separately, Nebraska landowners have also mounted a state court challenge to the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s approval of the “Mainline Alternative” route for Keystone XL. The Nebraska Public Service Commissioners rejected TransCanada’s “preferred” route in their decision — which had gone through years of public hearings and comments and review on the federal and state level — and instead approved a different “Mainline Alternative” route, without any due process for newly-affected landowners on this alternate route, or any environmental or cultural resources survey of the newly-affected land on the route.

Oral arguments in the landowners’ lawsuit are expected to be heard before the Nebraska Supreme Court in the fall of 2018. If the landowners’ case is successful, TransCanada would be compelled to file an entirely new permit application with the Nebraska Public Service Commission for the “Mainline Alternative” route, triggering another review process that could take up to a year.

Read the Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgement (embedded below)


Read the Landowners’ Notice of Appeal of Nebraska PSC Decision:

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Motion for Partial Summary Judgment