Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 28, 2020


Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626,
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
Jake Thompson, NRDC, (301) 602-3627,
Erin Jensen, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0722,
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192,
Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 850-6227,

Appeals Court Upholds Order Blocking Keystone XL’s Water-crossing Permit

SAN FRANCISCO— The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today left in place a district court decision blocking a key water crossing permit for Keystone XL and other oil and gas pipelines while a full appeal of the decision moves forward.

In April the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled that the Trump administration’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12. That ruling vacated the permit for Keystone XL and prohibited the Corps from using this fast-tracked approval process for other pipeline projects.

The Army Corps had pushed to allow approval for pipeline construction to continue during its appeal of the ruling in the 9th Circuit, but construction of Keystone XL and other major pipelines through rivers, streams and wetlands will remain on hold as that appeal is heard.

“The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in its relentless pursuit of seeing Keystone XL built, and it would have been unconscionable to allow this pipeline to be built through rivers, streams and wetlands while it remains tied up in court,” said Doug Hayes, a senior attorney with Sierra Club. “We’re glad to see the court recognize the threat this dirty, dangerous pipeline poses to communities, wildlife, and clean drinking water along its route, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure it is blocked for good.”

“This decision confirms the importance of protecting the most vulnerable wildlife from fossil fuel pipelines’ devastating threats,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Contrary to what the Trump administration has argued, the law is clear. We won’t sacrifice imperiled species so giant corporations can profit from the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate.”

“The courts have consistently stopped the Trump administration's attempts to ignore our environmental laws and put endangered species and wildlife habitat at risk, all for the benefit of a foreign corporation's tar-sands export pipeline,” said Jane Kleeb, president of Bold Alliance. “We are glad the court sees the great harm that could come from allowing any construction while this key water crossing permit has been vacated.”

“The court’s decision today buys some time for our environment, but its future remains in jeopardy,” said Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth. “We will continue to fight against this administration’s stubborn insistence to build the toxic, climate destroying Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Keystone XL would have a devastating effect on communities, wildlife and the climate — and those impacts should be carefully considered in all permitting decisions,” said Cecilia Segal, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If that analysis is based on science and facts, pipelines like Keystone XL will never see the light of day because they remain, and always will be, a dire threat to our planet.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline threatens our water, climate, and the rural and tribal communities who depend on these irreplaceable resources,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains member and Glendive, Montana rancher. “We are glad the court is not allowing construction to proceed over so many of these vulnerable waterways given KXL’s Canadian owners have never proven they can meet legal standards for this tar-sands pipeline.”

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.

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