July 1, 2019 5:08 pm
Updated: July 1, 2019 5:14 pm

New lawsuit challenges U.S. approvals of Keystone XL pipeline

FILE - In this July 29, 2017 file photo, a sign reading: "Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline" sits in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline, in Silver Creek, Neb.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Environmentalists asked a federal judge on Monday to cancel approvals issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, opening another front in the legal fight over a long-delayed energy project that U.S. President Donald Trump has tried to push through to completion.

Attorneys for the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club and other groups filed the latest lawsuit against the USD $8-billion oilsands pipeline in Montana, where they’ve previously won favourable rulings in related cases.

First proposed in 2008, Keystone XL was rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama but revived under Trump. An appeals court last month lifted an injunction that had blocked construction of the project. That came after Trump issued a new permit, in a bid to nullify a legal challenge to the pipeline by cancelling its previous permit.

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Story continues below

A separate lawsuit challenging the president’s actions on the permit is pending in federal court.

Monday’s lawsuit gives pipeline opponents another avenue to delay or stop it should Trump’s permit be upheld.

The environmentalists claim the Army Corps did not examine the potential for oil spills and other environmental damages when it approved plans submitted by pipeline developer TC Energy. The line would cross hundreds of waterways along a 1,900-kilometre path from Canada to Nebraska.

Almost all the crossings fall under an Army Corps program that gives blanket approval to individual pieces of a bigger project without considering the potential cumulative impacts, according to the lawsuit. That means no analysis was done of the possibility that the line would break and cause an oil spill or of its potential contributions to climate change, the lawsuit says.

The U.S. Army Corps public affairs office said in response to queries from The Associated Press that it was not commenting because the matter is under litigation.

READ MORE: Montana governor says he’s open to idea of supporting Keystone XL pipeline

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday criticized the Trump administration for approving the pipeline without consulting more with the Indigenous people whose land it would pass through, but he said he is open to supporting the project itself.

“I’ve said from the beginning that, look, if it’s done right we can’t take it off the table,” Bullock said during an online meeting about climate change held from the Montana Capitol.

TC Energy, until recently known as TransCanada, said prior to the injunction being lifted that it was too late in the construction season to begin work on the line this year. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

READ MORE: U.S. court lifts block on Keystone XL pipeline construction

In yet another attempt to thwart the project, the environmental groups behind Monday’s lawsuit also filed notice that they intend to sue Trump over the pipeline’s potential harm to imperiled species. They say building the line would kill birds such as the whooping crane and piping plover and an endangered fish, the pallid sturgeon.

© 2019 The Associated Press

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.