Energy & Environment

Trump’s latest Keystone XL permit challenged in court

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President Trump’s effort to reboot progress on the Keystone XL oil pipeline is facing another lawsuit, this one contending he does not have the power to issue such a permit.

Filed by the Indigenous Environmental Network on Friday in the U.S. District Court of Montana, Great Falls Division, the suit argues that Trump lacks the authority to issue pipeline permits as Congress administers federal lands.

In March, Trump signed a presidential permit to jump-start construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline with a facility in Montana, a move seen as a way to circumvent previous court orders halting development.

{mosads}This latest permit revoked an earlier permit, which was invalidated by a Montana federal judge in November who said Trump’s State Department did not give sufficient review to environmental impacts of connecting U.S. refineries with Canadian oilfields.

The conservation group argued the move was a clear “sidestep” to the earlier ruling that barred construction of the pipeline.

“President Trump attempted to sidestep those rulings by issuing, through his Office of the Press Secretary, a new ‘Presidential Permit’ purportedly ‘grant[ing] permission’ for TransCanada ‘to construct, connect, operate and maintain’ its proposed project without compliance with the laws of the United States. President Trump, however, is not above the law of the United States,” lawyers for the group wrote in their suit against the Trump administration.

In rejecting the earlier permit, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris said the Interior Department didn’t properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from Keystone and the Alberta Clipper pipeline, and the risk of oil spills.

White House officials have said Trump’s permits are not subject to court review, but the latest case filed by the Indigenous Environmental Network would also be heard by Morris, according to Politico. 

The pipeline would pass through historical tribal lands in Montana and South Dakota. 

-Updated 3:40 p.m.

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