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.

On April 15, 2020, the court ruled in our favor and agreed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unlawfully failed to evaluate threats to endangered species when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, a general permit that authorizes utility projects, like Keystone XL, to be built across U.S. waters with little to no review. The ruling invalidates the permit nationwide and could block Keystone XL from being built through hundreds of waterways. 

This decision marks the second time a federal court has struck down key permits for the Keystone XL pipeline due to serious violations of our bedrock environmental laws. 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. President Trump later circumvented that ruling by revoking the State Department’s permit and issuing a new permit, and in June 2019 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed this initial challenge as moot.

The court’s ruling is a significant setback for the Keystone XL pipeline. The fact remains that projects like Keystone XL will remain stalled as long as the Trump administration keeps trying to illegally fast-track them. 

Last Updated

April 23, 2020



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