Green groups sue to stop Keystone XL construction

Green groups sue to stop Keystone XL construction
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Various environmental groups on Monday sued the federal government over allowing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing the project violates environmental law.

The Sierra Club, Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance and other groups filed a suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying that it violated the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued a nationwide permit to allow the construction of the TransCanada Corp. gas pipeline.

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The suit argues specifically that the federal government’s permit to allow the construction of the pipeline between Canada and the U.S. was done “without assessing its significant direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects and by using the Permit to approve most of Keystone XL’s water crossings without analyzing its project-specific impacts.”

“Incredibly, the EA [environmental assessment] does not evaluate the risks or impacts of oil spills into waterways at all,” the suit reads.

A federal court ruled last winter that the U.S. State Department violated environmental laws by failing to supplement its 2014 environmental impact statement in light of a new pipeline route through Nebraska.

Another ruling placed a stay on construction from going forward. But the Trump administration in late March rescinded that 2017 Keystone permit, issuing a new one in its place.

The administration argued the new permit, which aimed to circumvent the environmental impact statement issues, nullified the construction moratorium. 

A White House spokesperson told The Hill at the time that the new permit "dispels any uncertainty."

"Specifically, this permit reinforces, as should have been clear all along, that the Presidential Permit is indeed an exercise of Presidential authority - that is not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act," the spokesperson added. The Trump administration moved to remove the stay on construction and the 9th Circuit later agreed, dismissing in early June the previous suit as moot.

The same environmental groups on Monday sent separate notices of intent to sue to the Army Corps, Trump administration and TransCanada Energy over violations to the  Endangered Species Act through intended pipeline construction.

The groups argued the construction would allow for the unlawful killing and destruction of habitat of listed endangered species.

“The conservation groups are prepared to demonstrate that construction, operation, and maintenance of the project, including its substantial transmission line infrastructure, will proximately cause the unauthorized take of listed species, including the whooping crane, American burying beetle, pallid sturgeon, interior least tern, and piping plover,” the notice read.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.