Judge Orders Trump Administration to Release Missing Keystone XL Records

The ruling is encouraging news in the long-fought battle against the controversial tar sands pipeline.


Credit: Laura Kleinhenz/Docuvitae

A federal judge has ordered the government to review missing documents related to the pipeline’s approval process. Opponents of the project say the documents, including emails and internal communications, may reveal which factors the administration relied on when it green-lighted the project, abruptly reversing a 2015 Obama administration decision to reject it.

“The public deserves to know what evidence the Trump administration relied on to approve the pipeline,” said Jackie Prange, an attorney for NRDC, a plaintiff in the case. Prange describes the current document record as “cherry-picked.” Ruling in favor of the pipeline’s opponents, the judge ordered the government to release recent records regarding its KXL pipeline executive order, or to explain which records it has withheld and why.

The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast across some of the country’s most sensitive rivers and aquifers. Because the project will cross the U.S.–Canadian border, construction cannot proceed without State Department approval. NRDC and its allies point out that the administration’s decision to approve the pipeline was based on outdated and erroneous information, among other illegal factors. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May.

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