Judge won't dismiss Keystone XL pipeline lawsuit

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Nov. 22, 2017 at 3:30 PM
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Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the Trump administration's request to throw out a lawsuit against a presidential permit allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

The lawsuit was brought in March by the Indigenous Environmental Network, Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups against the administration and TransCanada, which is building the pipeline.

The plaintiffs said the U.S. State Department used an "inadequate and outdated environmental review of the pipeline" from January 2014. They said the assessment must be updated before a permit can be issued.

The administration and TransCanada said the lawsuit should be dismissed because the environmental organizations don't have sufficient interest in the native species that could be harmed in a possible oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana disagreed, saying members of the organizations live in the states through which the pipeline would be built and "highly value and have studied the ... protected specials whose habitat the Keystone XL Pipeline threatens."

The Center for Biological Diversity welcomed the ruling.

"This is a key step toward holding the Trump administration accountable for recklessly approving this dirty and incredibly dangerous pipeline," said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the center. "Keystone would be a catastrophe for endangered wildlife and our climate, and we'll keep fighting until it's dead and buried."

Earlier this week, Nebraska's Public Service Commission sided against the preferred route for the Keystone XL through the state and instead voted for an alternative route that allayed ecological concerns.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the Nebraska decision "makes it all the more important" for a new environmental review to be conducted on the pipeline.

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