Green groups sue Trump over Keystone XL approval

Green groups sue Trump over Keystone XL approval
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Six environmental groups have sued President Trump's administration over its approval of a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Montana, the groups contend Trump’s State Department used out-of-date environmental information to approve the pipeline.

When Trump issued a presidential permit last week allowing Keystone to cross the U.S.-Canada border, opponents said the project needed to go through a new environmental review before it could actually move forward.

Trump officials used an environmental assessment conducted in 2014 to approve the project. Greens, however, say the project and the energy market have changed since then, and the conclusions in that assessment are too outdated to use for approving the project.

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Opponents of the project — the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Bold Alliance and the North Plains Resource Council — are now asking a court to reject the permit.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is nothing more than a dirty and dangerous proposal that’s time has passed," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement. “It was rightfully rejected by the court of public opinion and President Obama, and now it will be rejected in the court system.”

The groups’ suit is the second filed over the approval of Keystone XL. The Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance sued Trump over the pipeline on Monday, also alleging the project didn’t go through a proper environmental review before receiving its approval.

Regulators in Nebraska still need to approve the project before construction can begin. That process could take up to one year and will likely yield lawsuits of its own.

Environmentalists have long fought against the $8 billion Keystone project, designed to carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day between the Alberta oil fields and American refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

Approving Keystone — a project originally rejected by the Obama administration in 2015 — was a key promise for Trump during his campaign last year.

On his fourth day in office, he signed an order directing the State Department to reconsider Keystone developer TransCanada’s application for a permit allowing the pipeline to cross the border.

TransCanada reapplied for a permit days later, and the administration approved the project last Friday. Trump hailed it as a “historic moment for North America and energy independence.”

Obama’s rejection of the project “demonstrates how our government has failed its citizens and our companies for so long,” he said then. 

“Today we make things right,” he said. “This is just the first of many energy and infrastructure projects that my administration will approve … in order to help put Americans back to work, grow our economy and rebuild our nation.”

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the agency does not discuss pending litigation.