Trump Barrels Past Courts, Attempts to Greenlight KXL Pipeline

But the administration has yet to release the more thorough (and court-ordered) environmental review for the project.

Lorie Shaull/Flickr

President Trump made another attempt at reviving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on Friday—despite a court order blocking its construction. “President Trump is once again showing his disdain for the rule of law,” says Anthony Swift, director of the Canada Project at NRDC. “Last time the president tried to ram this permit through, he lost in court.”

Keystone XL has faced numerous legal setbacks in recent months. In August 2018, a federal court ruled that the U.S. Department of State’s Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline failed to analyze the proposed new route through Nebraska. A few months later, the court invalidated other parts of the environmental review documents, citing failures to adequately address climate change, oil spills, and impacts to cultural resources, among other things. The court ordered a stop to all construction, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then upheld that decision in March. Shortly thereafter, Trump issued a presidential memorandum purporting to revoke the existing State Department cross-border permit and re-issue directly. By issuing a new permit for TransCanada to build the pipeline, Trump is attempting to bypass the courts’ decisions.

The fight against the pipeline now dates back a decade. If built, Keystone XL would carry up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands oil—one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources—across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries. Its hefty carbon footprint also represents a significant step backward from our clean energy goals. “The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was a bad idea from day one, and it remains a terrible idea,” Swift says. “We are going to continue to fight this dangerous tar sands pipeline proposal.”

About the Authors

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.