Indigenous and Environmental Groups Sue Trump over Keystone XL*
“This movement has already defeated the Keystone XL pipeline, and we will again,” said Brune.
On Thursday morning multiple Indigenous and environmental organizations launched two simultaneous lawsuits over U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval of the massive Keystone XL oil pipeline project.
The Indigenous Environmental Network and the North Coast Rivers Alliance joined forces in one suit, while the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth launch another, both in federal court in Montana.
Both lawsuits argue that Trump’s executive order approving the 1,200-mile pipeline project — which aims to bring toxic tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska — violates environmental laws because it is based on an outdated and biased environmental impact study.
“President Trump is breaking established environmental laws and treaties in his efforts to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline, that would bring carbon-intensive, toxic, and corrosive crude oil from the Canadian tar sands, but we are filing suit to fight back,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Goldtooth and the IEN were key organizers of the historic Standing Rock water protection action which has galvanized the Indigenous sovereignty and climate justice movements over the past year.
“For too long, the U.S. Government has pushed around Indigenous peoples and undervalued our inherent rights, sovereignty, culture, and our responsibilities as guardians of Mother Earth and all life while fueling catastrophic extreme weather and climate change with an addiction to fossil fuels,” Goldtooth added.
“The time has come to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shut down risky extreme energy projects like the tar sands that are poisoning our families, wildlife, water sources and destroying our climate.”
In 2015 then President Barack Obama declined to approve the pipeline, despite its passing of an environmental assessment, after years of massive organized resistance to the project.
Both lawsuits argue that the original 2014 environmental assessment was biased, in that it was completed by a company with a conflict of interest, and is long out of date given new evidence of the multiple risks posed by the project.
The IEN also claims that the pipeline would violate the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is nothing more than a dirty and dangerous proposal that’s time has passed,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
“It was rightfully rejected by the court of public opinion and President Obama, and now it will be rejected in the court system. It has never been a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but rather a question of when, and Keystone XL is no different.”
Brune expressed confidence that the lawsuit, along with a powerful mass mobilization, can defeat Trump’s agenda.
“We continue to meet Trump in the streets, and we look forward to meeting him in the courts to stop his reckless agenda that threatens our clean air and water and the climate. He was defeated – twice – when he tried implementing a Muslim ban; he was defeated when he tried to take health care away from 24 million Americans, and he will be defeated once again as he tries to force this pipeline on the people who have already seen its rejection. This movement has already defeated the Keystone XL pipeline, and we will do so once again.”