Federal Court Rules State Dept. Must Conduct Full Environmental Review of Keystone XL in Nebraska

Published August 16, 2018

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A federal judge today sided with environmental, landowner and Tribal plaintiffs in their challenge to the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The State Department had attempted to fast-track its environmental review of the pipeline’s new route in Nebraska, and today U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled that this sham review process was not legally sufficient.

Today’s ruling mandates that the State Department go back and conduct a more robust supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the “Mainline Alternative” route, which was approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission in November 2017.

Protesters rally against the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Photo Courtesy: Martine Zee

If built, Keystone XL would carry up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands — one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources — across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries.

The decision clouds the future for a pipeline that investors are already seriously questioning the need for. TransCanada has not yet announced a Final Investment Decision on whether to move forward and build Keystone XL should it receive all the necessary permits.

Plaintiffs Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club filed the lawsuit in March 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

Judge Morris indicated that he would issue an order addressing the plaintiffs’ remaining claims that the administration violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it approved the pipeline in the near future.

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