Though President Donald Trump made a big deal of how he rushed through approval of the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year, numerous legal battles remain underway as both national and local environmental groups fight his presidential order.
With a pair of lawsuits aimed at making sure the pipeline is never built, a judge in Montana on Wednesday heard arguments from lawyers who say Trump’s order was only enough to approve the section of the project that actually crosses the U.S.-Canada border—not the entirety of the pipeline as it crosses through that state and others. The opponents further argue that, due to the haste with which it was made, the State Department’s approval under Trump’s direction unlawfully violated key aspects of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
While government lawyers argued that because it was a “presidential action, therefore it’s not reviewable,” the legal team backing the lawsuits strongly disputed that point.
“This really does take us into a realm of unbridled presidential power,” said Stephan Volker, an attorney for the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance, parties to one of two lawsuits. The other suit was brought by NRDC, Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and the Sierra Club.
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