The Tribes’ Case Against KXL Still Stands


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On June 6, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a case that sought to revoke the permit for TC Energy’s (TransCanada) Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline. In that case, brought by a coalition of environmental organizations, the District Court had decided that the federal government did not follow the law when it issued its 2017 permit for the pipeline. The District Court blocked pipeline construction until the government and TC Energy met those legal requirements. All construction was stopped.

map of Keystone Pipeline

Phase 4 is the proposed KXL pipeline. Map by Meclee – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

After the District Court’s decision, President Trump took the extraordinary step of revoking the original KXL permit issued by the State Department and issuing a new permit himself. If the President’s goal was to avoid complying with the District Court’s decision in that case, it worked. With the original permit revoked, the Ninth Circuit yesterday decided to dismiss as moot the case based on that original permit. The injunction blocking KXL construction has now been lifted.

However, for the Tribes, the KXL fight is just beginning. The Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, represented by the Native American Rights Fund,  have separately sued TC Energy and President Trump—Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. Trump. Regardless of the new permit and political maneuvering, the President is required to honor the treaties and the Constitution. And TC Energy still must abide by federal and tribal law. The case is now up to the Tribes, and they will not allow a foreign company to break American law, take land that does not belong to them, ignore the voices and laws of the tribal citizens, and destroy an aquifer that feeds millions of Americans. See the related statement from Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Bordeaux.

“People must understand that the Ogallala Aquifer that this pipeline will cross covers 8 states and waters 30 percent of American crops. It is the largest underground water source in the United States. And the President and TC Energy would like to run a pipeline of highly toxic, cancer-causing sludge called ‘tar sands’ right through it.  The Tribes are taking a stand for their people, their culture, their water and their future, but they are also taking a stand for YOU,” said NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth.

Want to do something to help the tribes and protect the Ogallala Aquifer? Donate now.

Read more about the illegal permitting of the Keystone XL Pipeline.