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Lawsuit challenges US approvals of Keystone XL pipeline

Last Updated Jul 1, 2019 at 11:20 am PDT

FILE - Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

BILLINGS, Mont. — Environmentalists asked a federal judge on Monday to cancel permits and other approvals issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, opening another legal fight over a long-delayed energy project backed by President Donald Trump.

Attorneys for the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club and other groups filed the latest lawsuit against the $8 billion tar sands pipeline in Montana, where they’ve previously won favourable rulings in related cases.

They claim the Army Corps did not examine the potential for oil spills and other environmental damages when it approved plans submitted by pipeline developer TC Energy. The line would cross hundreds of waterways along a 1,184-mile path from Canada to Nebraska.

Almost all the crossings fall under an Army Corps program that gives blanket approval to individual pieces of a bigger project without considering the potential cumulative impacts, according to the lawsuit. That means no analysis was done of the possibility that the line would break and cause an oil spill or of its potential contributions to climate change, the lawsuit says.

The U.S. Army Corps public affairs office said in response to queries from The Associated Press that it was not commenting because the matter is under litigation.

First proposed in 2008, Keystone XL was rejected by President Barack Obama but revived under Trump. An appeals court last month lifted an injunction that blocked construction of the project. That came after Trump issued a new permit in a bid to nullify a legal challenge to the pipeline by cancelling its previous permit.

A lawsuit challenging the president’s actions on the permit is pending in federal court.

TC Energy said prior to injunction being lifted that it was too late in the construction season to begin work on the line this year.

The Associated Press