Native American and Environmental Orgs Sue Trump Admin Over Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Washington D.C. — On Monday, March 27, 2017, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA) filed a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s approval of a Presidential Permit to construct and open the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL). If completed, the pipeline would carry over 800,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil per day, through the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico. Following historic public outcry, the project was rejected in 2015 when Obama deemed it did not serve the nation’s interest.

“Because President Trump has turned his back on the Native American community and protection of our clean water, endangered fisheries and indeed, survival of the Planet itself, we have asked the federal courts to order him to comply with our nation’s environmental laws,” said Stephan Volker, attorney for IEN and NCRA, in a press release.

The suit addresses the State Department’s (DOS) decision “to issue a Presidential Permit” to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P., which it alleges violates numerous environmental laws. The complaint also claims the DOS’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“FSEIS”) fails to:

    1. provide a detailed and independent Project purpose and need
    2. analyze all reasonable alternatives to the Project
    3. study the Project’s transboundary effects
    4. disclose and fully analyze many of the Project’s adverse environmental impacts
    5. formulate adequate mitigation measures
    6. respond adequately to comments

Furthermore, IEN and NCRA claim Trump’s ruling violates the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The suit also states the FSEIS was “irredeemably tainted” when it was prepared by Environmental Resources Management (ERM). The filing says the DOS violated its own guidelines when it selected ERM, a company described as having a “substantial” conflict of interest.

ERM is an oil industry contractor, which has worked for TransCanada, Chevron and Shell in the past. TransCanada owns KXL. In a 2014 report, the DOS Inspector General (OIG) found the DOS “substantially followed” its own guidance in selecting ERM.

ThinkProgress explained, the OIG “found that even though ERM had done work for TransCanada in the past, none of the relevant staff had worked there while this work was done, and none of them had personal work histories working for TransCanada or on Keystone XL.”

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the IEN, feels Native Americans have been trampled by the U.S. Government plenty and said it’s time for the abuse to stop:

For too long, the U.S. Government has pushed around Indigenous peoples and undervalued our inherent rights, sovereignty, culture, and our responsibilities as guardians of Mother Earth and all life, while fueling catastrophic extreme weather and climate change with an addiction to fossil fuels. The time has come to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shut down risky extreme energy projects like the tar sands that are poisoning our families, wildlife, water sources and destroying our climate.

“Oil, water and fish do not mix. KXL poses an unacceptable risk to the Missouri River and its fisheries, including the nearly extinct Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus),” said Frank Egger, President of NCRA.

Volker stated he is confident the federal courts “will apply and enforce the law fairly and faithfully, and protect our irreplaceable natural heritage from the risky and unneeded KXL Pipeline.”

The State Department; Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary of State; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); James Kurth, USFWS Acting Director; and Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior are named as defendants in this case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Montana.

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