July 15 (UPI) — A coalition of conservation and landowner groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday challenging its approval for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through federal lands in Montana.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, the lawsuit by the Bold Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and others accuses the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s review of the project of being “riddled” with errors and omissions and their approval of its construction was made “in reliance of flawed data and outdated spill response plans.”
“The Keystone XL project was never in the public interest, and the administration continues to flout key environmental laws to promote this dirty and dangerous pipeline,” Jared Margolis, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The project would be devastating for the people and wildlife in its path, and regulators have repeatedly failed to fully address its environmental risks, including oil spills.”
According to the lawsuit, the Bureau of Land Management unlawfully granted a right-of-way and temporary use permit for the pipeline on Jan. 20 as it based its decision on environmental review documents that violate the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The lawsuit also accuses the Bureau of Land Management of violating other statutes when it issued a notice that it would proceed with construction of the pipeline prior to being granted all the permits necessary, several of which still remain outstanding.
“The Trump administration keeps trying to fast-track and rubber-stamp the boondoggle Keystone XL pipeline project, but they keep losing ‘bigly’ every time we take them to court,” Bold Alliance founder Jane Kleeb said in a statement mocking President Donald Trump who used the non-word in a debate while he was running for the country’s highest office.
The lawsuit is the latest to bog down construction of the controversial project that upon completion would deliver some 830,000 barrels of crude tar sand oil a day from the Canadian city of Hardisty, Alberta, to Steel City, Neb.
Early last week, the Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s request to allow for construction of the Keystone pipeline to continue, upholding a lower court’s decision to cancel a key water crossing permit on environmental grounds.
Many of the plaintiffs in that case filed Tuesday’s lawsuit seeking the court to declare the bureau’s issuance of permits and its Notice to Proceed to have violated several statutes and for those permits to be vacated as well as have an injunction put in place against any further construction of the project or issuance of federal approvals.
“As the courts have found time and time again, the Trump administration has consistently cut corners and skirted the law in order to ram through approval of Keystone XL,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “This project is stalled because it would be a disaster for clean water, wildlife, the climate and public lands, and there’s simply no way to approve it without ignoring bedrock environmental laws.”
UPI has contacted the Bureau of Land Management for comment.