Court Rules Against Cancelling Environmental Groups’ Keystone XL Pipeline Claims

The District of Montana ruled against dismissing a lawsuit regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite the pipeline’s permit and the project’s cancellation after President Biden took office.  The court ruled that the legal action is not moot citing that there is still relief available to the plaintiffs, specifically, the removal of a portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline which was built underground at the U.S.-Canada border. 

Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance filed the lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump and other federal defendants in an effort to halt construction on the pipeline citing environmental concerns. Companies involved in the construction intervened in the lawsuit in favor of the defendants. These companies, TC Energy Corporation and Transcanada Keystone Pipeline LP, filed the motion to dismiss citing mootness on June 30. 

In its order, the court explained that even if the injunctive relief, specifically removing the pipe, is not granted it determined that the matter met an exception to mootness after considering briefings on the topic it requested from the parties. The court determined that although the government voluntarily halted the project, it could later provide a permit whether through President Biden or a future president. The filing said that this is the case even though the builder, TC Energy, terminated the project

“Nothing in TC Energy’s announcement alters the status of this case as the Court assessed in its Order on Mootness,” Judge Brian Morris said in Friday’s Second Order on Mootness, “The case presents a live controversy for substantially the same reason it did before.” 

As a result of this ruling, the plaintiffs will continue to be allowed to seek their requested relief for allegations that the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline should not have been granted.  They alleged that the government did not consider accurate information when granting the permit and that construction on the pipeline would break federal laws and regulations, specifically the National Environmental Policy Act. 

The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker and Patten, Peterman, Bekkedahl & Green, PLLC. The defendants are represented by the U.S. Department of Justice.