Tribes, Government Stipulate Dismissal of Lawsuit Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Noting President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline on Jan. 20, his first day in office, each party in a lawsuit by two Indian tribes purporting that the pipeline would cause environmental harm told the District of Montana that they agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice, ending the lawsuit. 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Community filed the stipulation of dismissal along with defendants, including Biden and various government departments, and intervenors in favor of the defendants, TC Energy Corp. and TransCanada Keystone Pipeline L.P. 

“In the interest of conserving the Parties’ and Court’s resources,” the parties said they were dismissing the lawsuit and each paying their own costs and attorneys’ fees. The stipulation explained that canceling the permit for the pipeline made the case moot.

The initial complaint was filed in September 2018, and an amended complaint was filed in May 2019. The tribes alleged that the Keystone XL pipeline, which was planned to transport oil through Rosebud’s land, had not obtained consent from Rosebud or the federal right of way to cross the lands. Additionally, they claimed that environmental concerns should have required the companies to need a supplemental environmental impact statement before approving the permit. They cited that the Department of State denied TransCanada’s request for a permit for the pipeline twice. 

The plaintiffs were represented by the Native American Rights Fund, the defendants by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the intervenors by Crowley Fleck PLLP and Sidley Austin LLP

The Keystone XL Pipeline has been the center of multiple other lawsuits. Environmental groups filed petitions to cancel the permit and, more recently, some states filed a lawsuit claiming Biden could not cancel the permit. Earlier this week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alleged that the cancellation of the permit made a lawsuit against them moot.