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Legal Challenge to Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Expanded

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2019

Contact: Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
jmargolis@biologicaldiversity.org
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Jake Thompson, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2387,
jthompson@nrdc.org
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org

GREAT FALLS, MT  — Conservation groups today expanded their federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s illegal approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The groups are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its streamlined approval of the pipeline, and today added claims challenging the Corps’ failure to ensure that endangered species would not be harmed by the project.

In late 2018 the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled that the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws by issuing a permit for Keystone XL without adequately evaluating critical information on the project’s environmental impacts, including tar sands oil spills and climate change.

Although Trump effectively circumvented that ruling by issuing a new permit in March, the fact remains that no federal agency has yet completed the requisite analysis.

Today’s filing expands on the federal lawsuit filed by the same groups in July, which challenged the Army Corps’ approval of the pipeline to be constructed through hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands without evaluating the project’s impacts. That evaluation is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

“Regulators can’t ignore that Keystone XL will devastate waterways and protected species through oil spills and habitat destruction,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re still fighting Trump’s attempt to ram through this dirty fossil fuel project. This destructive pipeline should never get the chance to ruin clean water that’s crucial to people and endangered species.”

“Though he seems to think otherwise, Donald Trump is not above the law, and we won’t allow him to endanger wildlife, clean water, and the climate to allow a Canadian company to move more tar sands through the United States,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “We’ve held off construction of Keystone XL for more than a decade, and we won’t stop until this dirty tar sands proposal is put to rest for good.”

“While Trump states over and over again the Keystone XL pipeline is already being built, those of us who live in the states know the reality and risks. Our scenic Niobrara River and the Platte River, where Sandhill and Whooping Cranes migrate, along with farmers’ water wells, are all at risk with this foreign, export pipeline. Trump may not believe in the rule of law, but we the people do, and we will take to the streets, courts and cornfields to ensure this pipeline is never built,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder.

“Trump’s continued attempts to build the dirty, water-polluting Keystone XL pipeline with a rubber stamp instead of full environmental review is deeply disturbing,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “On such a major project, the communities who are on the frontlines deserve a comprehensive environmental review to protect themselves, our environment, and endangered species. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would be devastating for the farmers, tribes and communities along its route. Stopping this pipeline will help put a stop to Trump’s ongoing corruption.”

“As our new claims show, the Trump administration has put the cart before the horse by approving this dirty pipeline before following federal law and ensuring it will not harm endangered species along the proposed route,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In fact, Keystone XL’s effects on species — just like its effects on water bodies, nearby communities, and the climate — would be devastating.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Lawsuit Challenges New Trump Administration Land Swap to Bulldoze Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

For Immediate Release
August 7, 2019

Contact: David C. Raskin, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, (425) 209-9009, davidc.raskin@me.com
Fran Mauer, Alaska chapter — Wilderness Watch, (907) 978-1102, fmauer@mosquitonet.com
Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org
Tim Woody, The Wilderness Society, (907) 223-2443, tim_woody@tws.org
Dawnell Smith, Trustees for Alaska, (907) 433-2013, dsmith@trustees.org

ANCHORAGE, AK  — Conservation groups sued the Trump administration today to challenge a land-swap deal with King Cove Corporation aimed at putting a road through the heart of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Izembek is one of America’s most ecologically significant wildlife refuges, home to world-class wetlands that support millions of migrating birds, fish and caribou.

In March a federal judge threw out a previous land exchange proposal. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt agreed to the new land swap July 12 without public knowledge or input. Unlike the earlier proposal, the latest deal does not limit the road to health, safety and non-commercial uses. It is otherwise similar to the previous agreement rejected by the court.

“The Department of Interior has attempted an end run around the recent federal court decision that halted its plans to desecrate the Izembek Refuge Wilderness and its wildlife,” said David C. Raskin, president of Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. “This new backroom deal adds to a long series of actions by Interior to give away public lands to serve special interests at the expense of the American people. We are disappointed by this continuation of the illegal and unethical efforts of the current administration to circumvent decades of legislation and regulations enacted to protect public lands and natural areas from destructive developments and preserve them for the benefit of all Americans. We will use every means at our disposal to continue the fight to save the Izembek Refuge.”

Today’s lawsuit, filed by Trustees for Alaska in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, says Interior cannot use the land exchange provision of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act to gut a national wildlife refuge and circumvent public process, environmental review and congressional approval. It also says the latest land exchange violates the National Environmental Policy Act and fails to adequately justify the agency’s reversal of an Obama-era decision rejecting a land exchange.

“This deal violates the same laws as the first one, and we’re prepared to continue the legal fight to protect this irreplaceable wilderness,” said Bridget Psarianos, staff attorney for Trustees for Alaska. “This is another Trump administration public land giveaway that breaks multiple laws and dishonors the public processes that go into protecting the health of the lands, waters and wildlife of the National Refuge and Wilderness System.”

Congress passed ANILCA to preserve natural landscapes, wildlife, unaltered habitat and designated wilderness areas. Interior’s proposed land swap would give an ecologically irreplaceable corridor of land between lagoons to King Cove Corporation for a road. This vital area of the isthmus forms the heart of the Izembek refuge.

“Spending millions to build a road through federal wilderness would be a bad deal for taxpayers and a bad deal for the environment,” said Kristen Miller, conservation director at Alaska Wilderness League. “Yet the Bernhardt Interior Department continues to try and sidestep bedrock environmental laws like the Wilderness Act and the federal court system to satisfy politic desires and commercial interests. The previous administration looked long and hard at the road proposal and rejected it for sound reasons, and the district court and the Ninth Circuit agreed. This new plan, and really the entire process, reeks of self-serving backroom dealing and public lands theft at its most egregious.”

Trustees for Alaska also notified Bernhardt today of the groups’ intent to sue for Endangered Species Act violations related to the land swap.

“Bernhardt’s shady backroom deal is just as illegal as the land swap a judge already rejected,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Izembek is a vital wildlife refuge that feeds millions of birds from three continents. You can’t swap land here for anywhere else because there’s nothing else like it. We’ll keep fighting to ensure Izembek remains protected.”

All Harvey, the Alaska campaign representative from the Sierra Club, said, “The Trump administration’s plan to trade away wilderness in Izembek to be industrialized has been repeatedly studied and consistently rejected for good reason. Now, despite confirmation from the District Court that it’s illegal, Secretary Bernhardt is shamelessly trying to work behind closed doors to push the same deal forward again. We will continue to fight back against this costly and irresponsible deal.”

“The Trump administration is once again trading away public lands for a road through the Izembek Refuge Wilderness that would not only destroy the ecological integrity of Izembek, but would also establish a ruinous precedent for the entire National Wilderness Preservation System,” said Fran Mauer, representative of the Alaska chapter of Wilderness Watch. “This must not stand!”

Sarah Greenberger, vice president of conservation policy at the Audubon Society, said, “Common ground exists between critical wildlife protection for some of the world’s largest flocks of migrating birds and community needs of rural Alaskans. But it doesn’t require the sacrifice of an internationally important wetland refuge with tremendous costs to American taxpayers.”

David Krause, assistant state director for The Wilderness Society, said, “The Trump administration is up to its usual shady shenanigans to give away America’s public lands within a federally protected wilderness area. Like the previous backroom deal that was struck down by a federal court less than five months ago, we will fight this every step of the way.”

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs are Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Alaska Wilderness League, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and Wilderness Watch.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Senate Advances Bill That Would Gut Environmental Review of Oil Pipelines, Other Large Infrastructure Projects

For Immediate Release
July 24, 2019

Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, plopes@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON, DC (July 24, 2019)  — A Senate committee today approved a bill that would side-step environmental review to fast-track large infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines and natural gas export terminals.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved S. 1976, the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, by a voice vote. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would exempt infrastructure projects from detailed environmental reviews and public input that are required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“It’s shameful that senators are allowing more agencies to ignore the public’s voice and rubber-stamp oil pipelines and other dangerous projects,” said Paulo Lopes, a public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The National Environmental Policy Act protects the health and safety of communities. But senators are falling for the bogus industry myth that it’s too burdensome. The best projects occur when the public and environment are fully protected.”

In 2015 Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which weakened environmental review and public input for highway projects. The law also established a permitting council that authorized even more limited environmental review on other projectsexceeding $200 million, including oil pipelines and nuclear plants. These provisions are set to end in 2022.

Portman’s bill would make these provisions permanent and expand them to include transportation and Army Corp of Engineers projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which were previously excluded.

Supporters of the end run around the environmental review process said it was intended to speed highway construction, but highway construction times have increased. A 2016 Department of Treasury report found that a lack of funding was the most common indicator delaying the completion of transportation projects.

“Further undermining environmental safeguards won’t move projects forward any faster,” Lopes said. “This is a flimsy excuse to avoid public input and shirk one of nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The government admits that it’s a lack of money that slows things down.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Senate Advances Transportation Bill That Would Gut Environmental Review of Oil Pipelines, Other Large Infrastructure Projects

For Immediate Release
July 24, 2019

Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, plopes@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON, DC — A Senate committee today approved a bill that would side-step environmental review to fast-track large infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines and natural gas export terminals.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved S. 1976, the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, by a voice vote. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would exempt infrastructure projects from detailed environmental reviews and public input that are required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“It’s shameful that senators are allowing more agencies to ignore the public’s voice and rubber-stamp oil pipelines and other dangerous projects,” said Paulo Lopes, a public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The National Environmental Policy Act protects the health and safety of communities. But senators are falling for the bogus industry myth that it’s too burdensome. The best projects occur when the public and environment are fully protected.”

In 2015 Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which weakened environmental review and public input for highway projects. The law also established a permitting council that authorized even more limited environmental review on other projects exceeding $200 million, including oil pipelines and nuclear plants. These provisions are set to end in 2022.

Portman’s bill would make these provisions permanent and expand them to include transportation and Army Corp of Engineers projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which were previously excluded.

Supporters of the end run around the environmental review process said it was intended to speed highway construction, but highway construction times have increased. A 2016 Department of Treasury report found that a lack of funding was the most common indicator delaying the completion of transportation projects.

“Further undermining environmental safeguards won’t move projects forward any faster,” Lopes said. “This is a flimsy excuse to avoid public input and shirk one of nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The government admits that it’s a lack of money that slows things down.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Appeals Court Throws Out Case Blocking Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, Relying on New Permit Issued by President Trump

For Immediate Release
June 6, 2019

Contact:

Jake Thompson, NRDC, (202) 289-2387, jthompson@nrdc.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054, jmargolis@biologicaldiversity.org
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org
Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 228-1154, dustin@northernplains.org

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 6, 2019)  — 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.

Previously, a federal district court in Montana determined the environmental review for the pipeline was incomplete and blocked construction until the government complies with the law. It was widely reported that President Trump took the extraordinary step of issuing a new permit to undermine the Montana court’s decision. Despite these moves, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), the pipeline’s developer, recently informed investors that it was too late to begin construction of the pipeline in 2019.

The following are reactions to the decision:

“The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen and we will not stop fighting it, or President Trump’s extraordinary misuse of executive power to disregard the courts and environmental laws. We will explore all available legal avenues to stop this dirty tar sands oil pipeline from ever being built and endangering our communities and climate,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Landowners and Tribal Nations in Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana will continue to fight in the courts, despite this decision that ignores our voices and our nation’s environmental laws in favor of the Trump Administration’s attempt to fast-track a risky tar sands export pipeline that threatens our land, water and climate. We know this ten-year battle is still far from over, and we’ll continue to stand together against Keystone XL at every opportunity,” said Mark Hefflinger, communications director for Bold Alliance.

“Despite today’s ruling, we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built,” said Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. “This proposed project has been stalled for a decade because it would be all risk and no reward, and despite the Trump administration’s efforts, they cannot force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people.”

“The court is condoning blatant disregard for environmental laws and allowing regulators to put oil company profits over clean waterways and the people and species that rely on them,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration thinks it’s getting away with approving this dangerous project without adequate environmental review, but we’ll keep fighting Keystone XL to protect the people and wildlife in its path and prevent further harm to our climate.”

“Trump’s actions were a clear overreach to help corporate polluters,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today’s decision attempts to foist an unnecessary and dirty project on communities while imperiling our environment. The Keystone XL pipeline is a direct attack on Americans’ right to safe, unpolluted resources.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline would threaten the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers and endanger drinking water for tens of thousands of Montanans,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains member and Montana farmer. “Despite the Trump administration’s best efforts to upend the rule of law to serve a foreign corporation, we will continue the fight for clean water and the safety of Montanans every step of the way.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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350.org on Trump’s executive order to expedite pipeline permits

For Immediate Release
April 10, 2019

CROSBY, TX (April 10, 2019)  — Today, as Donald Trump touted backing the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and ramming through dangerous pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, he signed two executive orders expediting the permitting process for risky and toxic oil and gas pipelines, and limiting states’ decision-making power on such projects. This comes a week after a KMCO chemical plant explosion killed one person and injured two more.

350.org Executive Director May Boeve issued the following statement in response:

“This is a massive abuse of power that does nothing other than line the pockets of Trump’s fossil fuel billionaire friends, all at the expense of our democracy and our safety. Trump can try to rewrite regulations in favor of Big Oil by spreading disinformation and lies, but he can’t stop people power and our movement. We will continue to fiercely oppose dirty projects like Keystone XL through the US heartlands, the Williams pipeline in New York, and many more across the country. Right now, a coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and climate activists, who have been fighting pipelines for years, are training people in 10 cities across the U.S. to strengthen our resistance. Any public official claiming to a be real climate leader must rebuke Trump’s latest order, and stand with communities pushing for a Green New Deal to ensure a just transition from fossil fuels to a 100% renewable energy economy.”

A coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and national organizations launched the ‘Promise to Protect’ training tour, bringing knowledge from the frontlines of the fight against Keystone XL to local fossil fuel resistance happening across the country. The tour, named for the commitment made by more than 25,000 people to mobilize against the Keystone XL pipeline, will stop in 10 cities across the U.S. and several reservations along the pipeline route.

A rigorous report released last month revealed Williams Company and utilities manufactured a false demand in attempts to fasttrack pipelines. On Thursday, April 18, New Yorkers will march over the Brooklyn Bridge demanding Governor Andrew Cuomo walk the talk on a Green New Deal, starting by rejecting the Williams fracked gas pipeline before Earth Day.

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Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage, US Communications Manager, thanu@350.org

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Federal Judge to Hear Border Wall Challenge in D.C.

Media Advisory, December 17, 2018

Contacts: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, plopes@biologicaldiversity.org
Mary K. Reinhart, (602) 320-7309, mkreinhart@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups will present arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s border-wall construction in New Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is presiding over the case. The judge will hear arguments from both sides during the proceeding and could issue her ruling at any time following the hearing. The lawsuit challenges the administration’s use of a long-expired waiver to sweep aside 25 laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife.

“Trump can’t ignore dozens of bedrock environmental laws, no matter how desperate he is to build his destructive border wall,” said Jean Su, a Center attorney. “It’s time to stop Trump’s reckless executive overreach before he inflicts more damage on people and wildlife in the borderlands. We look forward to arguing the merits of this case.”
What: Federal court hearing challenging Trump’s border wall.
Where: U.S. District Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave. N.W., Courtroom 17 – 6th Floor.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m.
Media Availability: Attorneys and conservation advocates will be available for interviews outside the courthouse, before and after the hearing.
Background

The Department of Homeland Security exempted itself from dozens of laws to rush border-wall construction in New Mexico. But the waiver authority, granted by Congress more than 10 years ago, no longer applies.

The border-wall project includes 20 miles of new 18 foot-high steel bollard walls, which obstruct the natural migrations of wildlife. Dozens of rare wildlife species, including the aplomado falcon and Mexican gray wolf, make their homes in this region of New Mexico, as do kit foxes, bighorn sheep and ringtail cats. The area is also within historic jaguar habitat.

A 2017 study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by proposed wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.

 
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Court Hears Arguments to Stop Destructive Highway-widening Project Through Ancient California Redwoods

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2018

Contact: Peter Galvin, (707) 986-2600, pgalvin@biologicaldiversity.org

SAN FRANCISCO (November 28, 2018) — Conservation groups and Humboldt residents appeared in federal court today for a hearing on a legal challenge to Caltrans’ controversial “Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project.” The project would needlessly damage and harm ancient redwood trees in California’s iconic Richardson Grove State Park along Highway 101 in Humboldt County.

The highway-widening project would damage the roots of more than 100 of Richardson Grove’s ancient redwoods, including trees up to 3,000 years old, 18 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. Caltrans has pursued this project solely to incrementally improve passage for oversized commercial trucks, and continues to rely on inadequate environmental review.

“These are some of California’s oldest and most iconic trees. It’s ridiculous that Caltrans continues to push a plan to hack into them just to accommodate a few more huge trucks,” said Peter Galvin with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The redwoods of Richardson Grove have survived for thousands of years, and we’ll continue fighting to keep these ancient trees intact.”

At today’s hearing before Judge William Alsup in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the plaintiffs and Caltrans presented motions for summary judgment, with each side arguing that its case should prevail as a matter of fact and law without going to trial. The motions are under submission and a court ruling is forthcoming.

Litigation against the Caltrans project in Richardson Grove has been pursued in both state and federal court. In 2012 the federal court issued a temporary injunction stopping the project, citing numerous errors in Caltrans’ mapping and measurement of affected old-growth redwoods and use of faulty data. The state court ruled in May 2018 against a Caltrans motion to dismiss the state lawsuit.

Background

The federal lawsuit challenges Caltrans’ violations of the National Environmental Policy Act due to inadequate evaluation of the environmental impacts of cutting into tree roots. The suit also alleges violations of the Transportation Act, which requires highway projects with federal funding to minimize harm to natural resources in state parks.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of Del Norte, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and longtime local residents Bess Bair, Trisha Lee Lotus, Jeffrey Hedin and David Spreen.

Previous legal challenges had blocked construction and forced Caltrans to rescind all project approvals in 2014. The agency reapproved the project in 2017, claiming it had made significant changes. However, Caltrans still intends to cut into tree roots, threatening the stability and viability of old-growth redwoods. The conservation groups also filed suit in state court challenging the new project approval.

Richardson Grove State Park, where tourists often first encounter large redwoods when heading north on Highway 101, is home to one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwood trees in the world. The park has essential habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the northern spotted owl, and its creeks support runs of imperiled salmon and steelhead trout.

Caltrans first proposed the project in 2007, claiming the widening is needed to accommodate large-truck travel. But Highway 101 through Richardson Grove is already designated for larger trucks and does not have significant safety problems. The agency cannot demonstrate that the project is necessary for safety or would benefit the local economy.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs in this suit are Philip Gregory of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP; Stuart Gross of Gross & Klein LLP; and Sharon Duggan, a staff attorney with EPIC and a long-time expert on environmental law.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Otsego 2000 Challenges FERC Decision to Ignore GHG Impacts

Contact: Ellen Pope, director@otsego2000.org, 607-547-8881

COOPERSTOWN, NY (November 26, 2018) — On Monday, November 26, Otsego 2000 filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision permitting Dominion Transmission Inc.’s New Market Project to proceed. Otsego 2000 argues that in permitting this project, FERC violated the Natural Gas Act, NEPA, and binding legal precedent, when FERC refused to consider upstream or downstream GHG impacts wrongfully deciding that these impacts were not foreseeable or quantifiable. FERC also announced a significant policy change stating that for the same reasons, it would no longer consider GHG impacts in future cases. By announcing a significant policy change in a single docket, FERC also violated the Administrative Procedure Act which requires agencies to give notice of proposed policy changes, and allow public comment. By its action, FERC denied due process to citizens and stakeholders across the nation who had no notice of FERC’s plan until it was too late to intervene.

“At a time of surging concern for climate change and growing scientific evidence of its causes, FERC’s announcement of a new ‘policy’ to refuse to even consider GHG emission impacts, in defiance of existing law, must be rejected,” said Nicole Dillingham, President of Otsego 2000’s Board of Directors. She added: “The fact that FERC attempts to announce such a policy in a single docket denies all other others of their due process rights. Otsego 2000, as the only party with standing to appeal, simply cannot let this go unchallenged.”

Otsego 2000, an environmental and preservation advocacy organization based in Cooperstown, NY, is represented by Michael Sussman, Esq., of Sussman & Associates, Goshen, NY.

To read the brief and keep up-to-date on the case as it moves forward, visit .

 

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In Blow to Pipeline Project, Court Invalidates Trump Administration’s Keystone XL Environmental Review, Blocks Construction

For Immediate Release, November 9, 2018

Contact: Margie Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council, (541) 222-9699, mkelly@nrdc.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054, jmargolis@biologicaldiversity.org
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org
Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 228-1154, dustin@northernplains.org
Dena Hoff, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 939-1839

GREAT FALLS, MT (November 9, 2018) — A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Trump administration violated bedrock U.S. environmental laws when approving a federal permit for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. The judge blocked any construction on the pipeline and ordered the government to revise its environmental review.

The decision is a significant setback for a pipeline that investors are already seriously questioning. TransCanada has not yet announced a Final Investment Decision on whether to move forward and build Keystone XL should it receive all the necessary permits.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris found that the Trump administration’s reliance on a stale environmental review from 2014 violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. This ruling follows the court’s previous decision on August 15 to require additional analysis of the new route through Nebraska.

The court required the U.S. Department of State to revise the proposed project’s environmental impact statement to evaluate the extraordinary changes in oil markets that have occurred since the previous review was completed in 2014; to consider the combined climate impacts of approving both the Keystone XL and other tar sands pipelines; to study the many cultural resources along the pipeline’s route; and to examine the harmful risks of oil spills on nearby water and wildlife.

The State Department must also provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to reverse course and approve the permit, after the Obama administration denied it just three years ago on the same set of facts.

Based on these violations, the court ordered the State Department to revise its environmental analysis, and prohibited any work along the proposed route — which would cross Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana — until that analysis is complete. Keystone XL would have carried up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands — one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources — across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries.

Plaintiffs Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed the lawsuit in March 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

Quotes

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law, and it’s a victory for common sense stewardship of the land and water upon which we all depend. Despite the best efforts of wealthy, multinational corporations and the powerful politicians who cynically do their bidding, we see that everyday people can still band together and successfully defend their rights. All Americans should be proud that our system of checks and balances can still function even in the face of enormous strains,” said Dena Hoff, Montana farmer and member-leader of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

“Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana celebrate today’s victory foiling the Trump administration’s scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL. This now ten-year battle is still far from over. We’ll continue to stand together against this tar sands export pipeline that threatens property rights, water and climate at every opportunity, at every public hearing. People on the route deserve due process and the Ponca Trail of Tears must be protected,” said Mark Hefflinger, communications director for Bold Alliance.

“Today’s ruling makes it clear once and for all that it’s time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.”

“This is a complete repudiation of the Trump administration’s attempts to evade environmental laws and prioritize oil company profits over clean water and wildlife,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Keystone XL would devastate species and put communities at risk of contamination. There’s simply no excuse for approving this terrible project. We need to move away from fossil fuel dependence, not support more devastation.”

“Keystone XL would be a disaster for the climate and for the people and wildlife of this country,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As the court has made clear yet again, the Trump administration’s flawed and dangerous proposal should be shelved forever.”

“Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade. Environmental laws exist to protect people and our lands and waters. Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

 

*** The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. ***
 

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The Partnership Project's NEPA campaign is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.