Use of Nationwide Permit 12 for Pipeline Water Crossings Blocked
From CBD press release
April 19, 2020
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A federal judge today ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law when it approved Nationwide Permit 12, a water-crossing permit critical for TC Energy’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and many other pipelines nationwide.
The ruling invalidates Nationwide Permit 12, prohibiting the Corps from using this fast-tracked approval process for any pipelines nationwide, including Keystone XL. The ruling could also block construction through hundreds of water crossings along the Keystone XL pipeline route.
The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by conservation and landowner groups last year that challenged the Corps’ failure to adequately analyze the effects of pipelines authorized under Nationwide Permit 12, including Keystone XL, on local waterways, lands, wildlife and communities.
The Keystone XL pipeline is also facing ongoing legal challenges from indigenous groups and tribes which have challenged President Trump’s attempt to unilaterally approve the cross-border segment of the pipeline. Construction on that cross-border segment began last week, and the court will conduct a hearing Thursday on whether to block construction on that segment as well.
Meanwhile in Montana, residents are also urging Gov. Steve Bullock to put a hold on construction amid the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“This is a tremendous victory for imperiled wildlife that rely on rivers, streams and wetlands,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This ruling makes it clear that the Trump administration can’t continue to push dirty fossil fuel pipelines while ignoring the devastating impacts they have on the environment.”
“This ruling proves, once again, that we are a nation of laws no matter how many times powerful forces seek to undermine bedrock American legal protections,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains Resource Council member and Glendive, Montana farmer. “Given this new development, it’s imperative that all construction be halted to protect Montana’s rural and tribal communities during this pandemic. How, in good conscience, could we risk overwhelming our most vulnerable health care systems for a Canadian project that has never proven to be legally viable?”
“The Trump Administration has gone out of their way to repeatedly and unlawfully ram through permits for this destructive pipeline,” said Marcie Keever, legal director with Friends of the Earth. “Keystone XL and other proposed fossil fuel pipelines would devastate frontline communities and wreak havoc on our environment. Today’s ruling sends a clear signal nationwide that people and the planet must come before profits for polluting corporations.”
“The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in their relentless pursuit of seeing this dirty tar sands pipeline built,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “Today’s ruling confirms, once again, that there’s just no getting around the fact that Keystone XL would devastate communities, wildlife, and clean drinking water. It was true a decade ago, and it’s just as true today: Keystone XL would be a bad deal for the American people and should never be built.”
“Farmers and ranchers rely on clean water and land security,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder. “TransCanada continues their efforts to go around the law in order to build their risky pipeline. Hopefully this clear directive from the courts will make it clear TransCanada and our own federal government can’t run roughshod over Americans to help out a corporation’s shareholders.”
“The Trump Administration’s ongoing effort to give out goodies to Big Oil hit another setback today,” said Cecilia Segal, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney. “Whether they like it or not, the Corps cannot skirt foundational environmental laws. And projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will remain stalled as long as the Administration keeps trying to illegally fast-track them.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.