Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Against Donald Trump Over Pipeline

Several environmental groups filed a single lawsuit against the Trump administration on Thursday in response to the president’s decision to approve construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The six groups said in their federal complaint that Donald Trump relied on outdated information when he gave the U.S. State Department the okay to grant a permit to TransCanada that allows the company to continue stretching its pipeline from Canada to the United States.

The complaint was filed in Montana’s Great Falls Division. It alleges that Trump violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

“They have relied on an arbitrary, stale, and incomplete environmental review completed over three years ago, for a process that ended with the State Department’s denial of a cross-border permit,” the suit claims.

The pipeline permit was one of Donald Trump’s first executive orders since he took office in January. The project is still the cause of significant resistance, especially by Native American groups in the Dakotas.

Former president Barack Obama previously rejected the pipeline, not because of Native American concerns, but claims that it would result in excessive greenhouse gases and have no quantifiable positive effect on fuel costs.

“This tar sands pipeline poses a direct threat to our climate, our clean water, wildlife, and thousands of landowners and communities along the route of this dirty and dangerous project, and it must and will be stopped,” Michael Brune, of the Sierra Club, one of the groups involved in the suit, told Reuters.

Donald Trump claims pipeline extensions would reduce America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil, lower fuel costs, and create jobs.

The lawsuit is the second filed this week against the Trump White House. The Northern Cheyenne Native American tribe of Montana alleged in a complaint brought Wednesday that the president’s administration acted illegally when it lifted a ban on coal leases on federal land.

The 2,100-mile first phase of the Keystone pipeline runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, and then on to Roxana, Illinois and Patoka, Illinois.

The 1,379-mile length runs through six counties in Missouri and two in Kansas. It also enters Illinois from Canada.

Keystone’s phases 2 and 3 collectively span 773 miles. Phase 4, the proposed Keystone XL, would span 327 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, entering the United States at Morgan, Montana, continuing through Baker, Montana, then through South Dakota to Nebraska.

Obama rejected the Keystone XL in late 2015, vetoing a bill by the House of Representatives (270–152) and Senate (62–36) that would have allowed construction to begin.

The Senate failed to override the veto, seemingly ending more than seven years of protests and marking victories for pipeline opponents. Obama officially rejected the project in November, 2015.

In January, Trump signed a order reviving the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines. He signed the order that gives the project the green light on March 24, 2017.

The pipeline has sparked legal debates on both sides of the table. An earlier suit was similar to Thursday’s complaint, alleging that the project’s go-ahead was based on a weak environmental impact statement. Filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2009, the complaint was dismissed in 2009, when the courts ruled that the council had no authority to sue.

Several polls showed the majority of Americans were in favor of the pipeline under Obama. Those polls were Gallup (2012, 57 percent), Rasmussen (2014, 57 percent), Pew Center ( 2013, 65 percent), Washington Post (2014, 65 percent), USA Today (2014, 56 percent), and CBS News (2014, 56 percent).

The USA Today poll was conducted after the publication ran an editorial about the crude-oil train derailment that killed 47 people 2013. The accident happened in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

In January, 2016, TransCanada threatened to bring a $15 billion discrimination complaint against the United States government if the project wasn’t resurrected under Donald Trump.

[Featured Image by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images]