On June 6, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s forward trajectory on June 8 though construction in the United States is still on hold.
A three-judge panel has sided with the Trump administration and the TransCanada Corporation (now TC Energy) because the Trump Administration has effectively revoked the old permit associated with litigations against the pipeline and replaced it with a new one.
Prior to the decision, a Montana state court had determined the environmental review was incomplete and construction was halted.
On the White House website, President Trump issued a Presidential Memoranda, Presidential Permit which stated in part:
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, I hereby grant permission, subject to the conditions herein set forth, to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (hereinafter referred to as the “permittee”), to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States. The permittee is a limited partnership organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, owned by affiliates of TransCanada Corporation, a Canadian public company organized under the laws of Canada.
This permit supersedes the Presidential permit issued to the permittee, dated March 23, 2017. For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby revoke that March 23, 2017, permit.
In an email to the Financial Post, TC Energy’s spokesperson Matthew John said, "There will be no mainline construction in 2019 in the U.S. … we are pleased with the ruling … We look forward to advancing the project."
Though TC Energy has been awarded the right to use an alternative route in the state of Nebraska, the Nebraska State Supreme Court is still in the midst of a decision on whether permits are valid. TC Energy has continued to assert it is moving forward with the project despite massive backlash from environmentalists and Native opposers to the pipeline. The company has stated however they will not begin construction in 2019.
In the Keystone XL’s history, and as previously reported in Indian Country Today, President Barack Obama rejected the $8 billion project in late 2015. Things changed when President Trump came into office. Two days into his presidency, Donald Trump signed an executive order to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline. Shortly afterward, a federal judge ruled to temporarily block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, stating the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision in granting the permit.
So Trump changed the permit.
In the midst of the efforts to approve the pipelines, Indigenous and environmentalist groups, and even former Vice President and 2020 presidential hopeful is calling the Trump Administration out and fostering efforts to be more environmentally sound.
On June 4, Biden introduced a potential 5 trillion dollars “clean energy revolution” plan that is calling for zero emissions, and a fully clean energy economy in the next thirty years. Biden has called Trump
In a video on Twitter, Biden called out Trump for denying “evidence in front of his own eyes,” and said actions are “reckless,” “irresponsible” and “unacceptable.”
Backlash to Keystone XL
On Twitter, the Indigenous Environmental Network has been clear about its stance.
“Tribal nations across Oceti Sakowin have been clear, we do not want the KXL pipeline running through our water sources. We will fight the KXL to the end.”
In a Sierra Club release, a considerable group of environmental representatives has made statements regarding the ruling at the Ninth Circuit Court.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen and we will not stop fighting it, or President Trump’s extraordinary misuse of executive power to disregard the courts and environmental laws. We will explore all available legal avenues to stop this dirty tar sands oil pipeline from ever being built and endangering our communities and climate,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes said, "Despite today's ruling, we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built … This proposed project has been stalled for a decade because it would be all risk and no reward, and despite the Trump administration's efforts, they cannot force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people."
Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity said, “The court is condoning blatant disregard for environmental laws and allowing regulators to put oil company profits over clean waterways and the people and species that rely on them … The Trump administration thinks it’s getting away with approving this dangerous project without adequate environmental review, but we’ll keep fighting Keystone XL to protect the people and wildlife in its path and prevent further harm to our climate.”
Enbridge Line 3
Enbridge Line 3 is a tar sands pipeline that goes from Alberta Canada to Superior Wisconsin with original construction that started in 1962 and became active in 1968. Activists and environmentalists have long fought against Enbridge, citing gross mismanagement by the company to include missed oil leaks, deteriorating pipelines which resulted in one of the most disastrous spills in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and the U.S. I million gallons were spilled, 38 miles of river were contaminated and clean up was an estimated 1.5 billion dollars.
As David Holtz, director of Oil and Water Don’t Mix told The Guardian, “It would be a mistake for the state to continue to work with Enbridge. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and if you look at Enbridge’s past behavior, then you know you can’t trust them.”
For now, the pipeline is halted as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has stated it will not grant a draft water quality certification - thus a replacement of the old Line 3. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources joined the agency in a public statement on Tuesday that any action by the state is on hold until pipeline deficiencies are addressed.
"The two agencies will continue their work reviewing the Line 3 applications. The court's decision, however, does have implications for how this work will proceed," said the statement.
For now, Line 3 is on hold.
The company issued a statement which said, “We believe the actions required to address the spill modeling in the Lake Superior watershed can be completed efficiently.”