Trump administration, Keystone developer want lawsuit against project dismissed

Trump administration, Keystone developer want lawsuit against project dismissed
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Attorneys for the Trump administration and the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline are again pushing a federal court to dismiss an environmental challenge against the project.

In a pair of briefs filed late Friday in a Montana federal court, attorneys reiterated their position that President Trump’s approval of the pipeline is not subject to the kind of lawsuit that environmental and indigenous rights groups filed.

The March approval from the State Department “was made solely pursuant to the president’s delegated constitutional authority over foreign affairs and national security,” Justice Department attorneys told the court.

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“Under Ninth Circuit law, the decision was a presidential action and, thus, it is unreviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act,” they said, referring to the law that governs most regulatory processes.

“No statutes curtail the under secretary [of State]’s discretion or provide meaningful standards of review, and therefore the decision also was committed to agency discretion by law.”

TransCanada Corp., which is proposing to build the Canada-to-Texas pipeline and filed the initial motion to dismiss the case from the Northern Plains Resources Council and others, made similar points.

The company said that laws like the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) do not apply to the president and his cross-border pipeline approvals, and accused the environmentalists of trying to apply them.

“Laudable goals do not overwrite existing statutes,” TransCanada attorneys said. “The existing statutes require that federal action be undertaken by an ‘agency’ or else NEPA does not apply.”

Judge Brian Morris, who was nominated by former President Obama, will hear oral arguments regarding the motion to dismiss the case in October.