Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon Jr on March 24 issued a presidential permit to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, authorizing the Canadian company to construct, operate and maintain pipeline facilities at the US-Canadian border in Phillips County, Mont., for the importation of crude oil from Canada’s tar sands. The Trump administration’s State Department is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who backs the pipeline. However, Tillerson recused himself from the decision after environmental groups objected that it would be a conflict of interest for him to decide the pipeline’s fate.
The State Department reviewed TransCanada’s application in accordance with Executive Order 13337 of April 30, 2004, signed by President George W. Bush, and President Trump‘s Jan.y 24, 2017 Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The permit reverses then President Barack Obama’s November 2015 decision to reject the pipeline. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership,” Obama said then.
“Today we begin to make things right,” President Trump said after the State Department issued its order. “TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed.”
The $8 billion project still faces litigation over the route brought by Native American tribes, landowners and environmental groups. “The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for people, wildlife and the planet,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration is taking us dangerously off course by approving this dirty, dangerous pipeline. We don’t have four years to wait to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and avoid a climate catastrophe.” (ENS, NYT, March 24)
Massive oil spill as Keystone pipeline route approved
TransCanada shut down its Keystone pipeline after it sprang a leak early Nov. 16 near the small community of Amherst in Marshall County, South Dakota. Some 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) fouled a field on a private farm. Just four days later, the Nebraska Public Service Commission ruled 3-2 to approve a route for the pipeline that is a slightly longer alternative path than TransCanada's preferred route. (ENS, Jurist)
Judge orders environmental review for Keystone XL
A US District Judge in Montana ruled Aug. 15 that the US State Department must conduct a more thorough environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project, ordering the $8 billion project’s construction to come to an immediate halt. (Jurist)
Native Americans file suit against Keystone XL pipeline
Two Native American communities filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Montana on Sept. 11 charging President Trump's administration with violating the tribes' treaty rights by permitting TransCanada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Fort Belknap Indian Community and Rosebud Sioux Tribe filed the suit, alleging Trump was precluded under the Administrative Procedure Act from granting the permit since the application was already reviewed and denied by the Department of State. The lawsuit also charges the administration with violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). (Jurist)
Judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction
A federal judge in Montana on Nov. 8 granted a temporary injunction (PDF) bringing an immediate halt to the construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline project. (Jurist)
Judge allows preliminary work on Keystone pipeline
Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana said in a hearing on Nov. 28 that pre-construction activities may continue for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Morris originally ruled this month that construction on Keystone XL must be halted to allow for further studies to ensure environmental safety. (Jurist)
Federal judge blocks South Dakota anti-riot act
US District Judge Lawrence Piersol issued a temporary injunction, blocking a recently enacted South Dakota anti-riot act, finding it “impinge[s] upon protected speech and…the right of association.” The act was drafted by Gov. Kristi Noem in anticipation of protests against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, slated to start in 2020. (Jurist)
Oil spill on Keystone pipeline —again
The Keystone pipeline that carries tar sands oil from Canada through seven states has leaked an unknown amount of crude oil over more than quarter-mile swath in northeastern North Dakota, state environmental regulators said Oct. 30. State Environmental Quality chief Dave Glatt told the Associated Press that regulators were notified of the leak near Edinburg, in Walsh County. Glatt said pipeline owner TC Energy shut down the pipeline after the leak was detected. The cause of the spill is under investigation.
Keystone pipeline leak bigger than thought
An oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in eastern North Dakota has affected almost 10 times the amount of land as first reported. State environmental scientist Bill Suess said Nov. 18 the leak reported on Oct. 29 is now estimated to have affected about 209,100 square feet (19,426 square meters) of land near Edinburg. (AP)
Wisconsin gets ‘anti-protest’ law
Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is the latest to sign into law an “anti-protest” bill explicitly aimed at opponents of oil pipelines. Peaceful protestors can now be charged with a felony if they trespass on property owned, leased, or operated by companies engaged in the distribution of oil or petroleum. (The Progressive)
Judge rejects bid to kill Keystone pipeline suits
A federal judge ruled Dec. 20 that environmentalists and indigenous tribes can proceed with lawsuits against the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
District Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, dismissed the government’s arguments that President Trump has total authority to approve the $8 billion pipeline and said that the Rosebud Sioux and Fort Belknap Indian tribes made credible claims that the line violated their treaty rights.
However, the judge did deny environmentalists’ requests that the court impose an injunction to block work on the pipeline, given that construction is not planned until the spring.
Morris first blocked work on the pipeline in 2018, leading the administration to issue a new permit earlier this year to try to circumvent the ruling. (The Hill)
Federal judge strikes down Keystone permits
A US judge canceled a key permit April 15 for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays. Judge Brian Morris in Billings, MT, said the US Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon in rivers the pipeline would cross.
The ruling, however, does not shut down work that has begun at the US-Canada border crossing in Montana, according to attorneys in the case. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across hundreds of rivers and streams along Keystone’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) route. (AP)
Ninth Circuit turns down request for Keystone permits
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on May 28 denied the Trump administration’s request to continue Keystone XL Pipeline construction. This decision will delay pipeline construction until the Ninth Circuit renders its final decision. The Ninth Circuit’s denial comes after a Montana district court revoked construction permits for the pipeline. The lower court found that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to give proper weght to “adverse environmental effects” in issuing the permits. (Jurist)