Federal judge dismisses enviro oil sands lawsuit

The environmental groups, Hilton said, were unable to show that the DOD contracts resulted directly in “an increased risk of harm to their health, recreational, economic, and aesthetic interests,” as they alleged.

“Plaintiffs fail to establish a reasonable probability that the [DOD actions are] responsible for the asserted harms and threats to their interests, and also fail to establish that the relief requested is capable of redressing those harms and interests,” Hilton said in the decision.

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The Sierra Club downplayed the significance of the decision Wednesday, noting that it was made on procedural grounds and not the merits of the case.

"I think it’s unfortunate and it’s a disappointment," Sierra Club Beyond Oil Associate Campaign Director Kate Colarulli told The Hill. "But it’s not the disaster that it’s been made out to be.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which intervened in the lawsuit along with the American Petroleum Institute, applauded Hilton’s decision to dismiss the case.

“Today’s ruling was a victory for the many U.S. industries that produce, process, transport or rely on oil derived from Canadian oil sands — making it ultimately a victory for the consumer,” said Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Energy Institute, in a statement Tuesday night.

“At this time of high energy prices and economic hardships, the last thing we should do is restrict the use of a stable, reliable fuel source which would harm our energy security and cost us jobs.”

The court decision comes as Republicans are ramping up efforts to limit or repeal Section 526. But military officials appointed under President Obama have defended Section 526.