Court can’t review Trump’s Keystone approval, lawyers argue

Court can’t review Trump’s Keystone approval, lawyers argue
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Trump administration attorneys are arguing that the federal court system cannot weigh in on its March approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Justice Department attorneys said in a legal filing late Friday that the State Department’s right to approve cross-border pipelines stems directly from President Trump’s authority under the Constitution, and the Montana federal court hearing the case must dismiss it.

The attorneys argue that the approval is therefore not subject to the Administrative Procedures Act or the National Environmental Policy Act, the laws that environmentalists are using to try to get the courts to block the pipeline.

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“As multiple courts have found, because the issuance of a presidential permit for an international crossing is an exercise of the president’s delegated authority over foreign affairs and national security, the exercise of that authority constitutes presidential action that is not reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act,” the lawyers told the federal District Court for the District of Montana in a brief.

“As such, plaintiffs’ claims that the U.S. Department of State violated the National Environmental Policy Act — which claim relies on the APA as the sole basis for invoking this court’s jurisdiction — must be dismissed.”

Anticipating that argument, green groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club said in their March lawsuit that in approving TransCanada Corp.’s permit to build Keystone XL, State used an outdated 2014 environmental review of the project, which was illegal.

But the Trump attorneys said that State “acted solely pursuant to the inherent constitutional authority delegated by the president,” making the environmental review moot.

State approved Keystone in March, fulfilling a key campaign promise by Trump and reversing former President Obama’s rejection of the project from November 2015.