Northern Plains Resource Council members are committed to the long game on Keystone XL.
Adapted from Northern Plains Resource Council’s newsletter.
One reason that Northern Plains has been successful for almost a half century is because they play the long game. It took almost forty years to stop the Tongue River Railroad, but grassroots perseverance outlasted the railroad and coal companies eager to carve up eastern Montana for an ill-conceived, shape-shifting project. But before that, Northern Plains was founded in part to protect Rosebud County ranchers against pollution from the newly built Colstrip power plant in the early 1970s, and now they have outlasted Units 1&2, which are set to retire at the end of this year. The fight to protect Montana’s water and climate from the Keystone XL pipeline is shaping up to be another battle that requires steadfast persistence.
The successful court challenge against the pipeline’s permit last November has proven that Northern Plains’ legal arguments are sound. Unfortunately, the White House used dubious legal tactics to render that lawsuit moot this past March. It was a desperate tactic employed by the president to ingratiate himself with TC Energy (formerly TransCanada Corporation) and the fossil fuel industry as a whole.
However, his shenanigans did nothing to address the legal concerns Northern Plains raised in their successful district court lawsuit. Those concerns still exist, and they have filed a new lawsuit in the very same court, which will be heard by the very same judge, and which will bring up many of the very same legal arguments that won their case last year. This time, though, President Trump cannot abuse his executive authority to disrupt the process, because Northern Plains’ new lawsuit challenges a broad permit he cannot supersede.
On July 1, Northern Plains joined a coalition of other organizations as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ illegal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Army Corps used its streamlined “Nationwide Permit 12” process to give blanket approval to hundreds of river and stream crossings along the KXL route, including the Yellowstone and Milk rivers in Montana.
This foreign corporation’s proposed tar sands pipeline has yet to prove it meets legal standards in the American court system. We will continue this fight for the safety of Montanans and the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers who depend on clean water.
This insufficient Permit 12 process does not require the comprehensive review a project like the Keystone XL demands, and the Army Corps did not evaluate the impacts of potential tar sands spills or climate impacts. Just as Their prior lawsuit argued successfully in federal court last year, this is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.
“The United States is still a country of laws, and this foreign corporation’s proposed tar sands pipeline has yet to prove it meets legal standards in the American court system,” said Dena Hoff, Glendive farmer and Northern Plains member. “We will continue this fight for the safety of Montanans and the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers who depend on clean water.”
And, just like the other battles Northern Plains has fought for years and decades before winning, they will ultimately prevail in this fight, too.
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