The Keystone XL Pipeline

Elvert Barnes via Flickr

On July 1, 2019, NRDC, together with the Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Sierra Club, filed a new federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana challenging the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The Indigenous Environmental Network and Rosebud Sioux Tribe are also leading two pending challenges to Keystone XL in the same court.

Keystone XL is a massive, 830,000-barrel-per-day project that would carry some of the world’s dirtiest crude oil across Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf Coast. If built, the pipeline would threaten countless communities and habitats and exacerbate our climate crisis.

Our complaint alleges that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unlawfully issued a March 2019 “Nationwide Permit 12”—a general permit that the Corps can grant to projects, like oil pipelines, under a streamlined and opaque process—by failing to adequately evaluate the permit’s significant environmental impacts. Our complaint similarly alleges that the Army Corps violated bedrock environmental laws by using Nationwide Permit 12 to approve the construction of Keystone XL across hundreds of rivers, streams, and wetlands without any further analysis of the pipeline’s devastating effects on nearby people, wildlife, and waterways.

We also sent notices to President Donald Trump, the Army Corps, and the companies seeking to build Keystone XL and its power line infrastructure of their potential liability under the Endangered Species Act for approving and constructing the pipeline without first assessing and mitigating the project’s risks to endangered species, including the iconic whooping crane. We intend to sue these parties unless they remedy these violations.

In 2017 we launched a case against the U.S. State Department for issuing a U.S.–Canada cross-border permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline based on a stale and incomplete environmental review. The federal court in Montana ruled in our favor and halted construction of the pipeline until the State Department revised its analysis. But President Trump circumvented that ruling by revoking the State Department’s permit and issuing this permit, and in June 2019 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed this initial challenge as moot.

Yet the fact remains that no federal agency has completed a full and adequate analysis of Keystone XL’s environmental impacts. And despite the administration’s efforts, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), the pipeline’s developer, recently informed investors that it was too late to begin construction of the pipeline in 2019. Our fight continues.

Last Updated

July 01, 2019



Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would send a flood of toxic tar sands oil—one of the dirtiest fuels in the world—through America’s heartland.

Appeals Court Throws Out Case Blocking Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, Relying on New Permit Issued by President Trump

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a legal challenge to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, ruling the case was no longer active due to President Trump’s revocation of the permit at the center of the case. In March, Trump issued a new “presidential” permit for Keystone XL, in an effort to spur construction of the pipeline.

June 06, 2019