Citizen Action Monitor

US coalition of 8 file lawsuit challenging State Dept’s illegal approval of Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline plans

“The only thing worse than dirty oil is dirty oil backed by dirty tricks.”

No 1189 Posted by fw, November 13, 2014

“ ‘The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself for letting Enbridge illegally pump more dirty tar sands oil into the United States,” [said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity]….The approval allows Enbridge to upgrade its cross-border connecting pipeline between two already existing pipeline by calling it “maintenance,” even though it lets them change the product that flows through the pipeline from light to heavy tar sands oil and double its capacity to 800,000 barrels a day—nearly equivalent to the amount that would be carried by Keystone XL. The company said it intends to have the pipeline ready to ship tar sands oil to the U.S. by the middle of next year.’ ”Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

In an August 28, 2014 post, I noted that groups opposed to Enbridge’s devious tar sands expansion plans were evaluating their legal options to stop this “violation” of public rights. Well, the evaluation phase is over and true to their words a coalition of 8 groups has filed a lawsuit against the State Dept.

To read the original article, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is a reposting of the piece.

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Groups Sue U.S State. Dept. to Stop Alberta Clipper Tar Sands Pipeline by Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch, November 12, 2014

Yesterday the Washington Spectator ran an investigative piece tearing the veil of secrecy from the Alberta Clipper pipeline project, a plan by Canadian mining company Enbridge to build a pipeline nearly equal in length and capacity to the Keystone XL to transport tar sands crude oil to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and exporting. With the U.S. State Department’s cooperation, Enbridge found a loophole to circumvent the legal approval process needed to cross the international Canadian/U.S. border. And, by keeping a low profile, it managed to avoid the public outcry that has stalled Keystone XL for six years.

That period of operating off the public radar may be coming to an end. Today a coalition of eight environmental, conservation and indigenous groups announced that they have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry in a Minneapolis federal court. The suit charges that approval was granted despite lack of public notice or the legally required review of environmental and public health impacts. The groups filing the lawsuit include White Earth Nation, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Honor the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Indigenous Environmental Network and MN350, being represented by the Vermont Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. Their intention is intended to force the State Department to reverse its approval and ensure that a full environmental review takes place.

“This lawsuit challenges the State Department’s illegal approval of Enbridge’s tar sands expansion plans,” said Sierra Club staff attorney Doug Hayes. “Rather than stick to its ongoing review process that the National Environmental Policy Act requires, the State Department green-lighted the expansion before the process is complete.”

The publicity from the Washington Spectator piece and lawsuit will most likely awaken a host of activists and organizations who have worked tirelessly to oppose Keystone XL and its plan to extract, refine and ship the carbon-intensive tar sands oil, a prime driver of climate change. And publicity is most likely precisely what Enbridge doesn’t want.

“The only thing worse than dirty oil is dirty oil backed by dirty tricks,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is the fossil fuel equivalent of money laundering. The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself for letting Enbridge illegally pump more dirty tar sands oil into the United States.”

The approval allows Enbridge to upgrade its cross-border connecting pipeline between two already existing pipeline by calling it “maintenance,” even though it lets them change the product that flows through the pipeline from light to heavy tar sands oil and double its capacity to 800,000 barrels a day—nearly equivalent to the amount that would be carried by Keystone XL. The company said it intends to have the pipeline ready to ship tar sands oil to the U.S. by the middle of next year.

“To establish the U.S. as a real international leader in tackling the climate crisis, the State Department must stop turning a blind eye to Big Oil schemes to bypass U.S. laws and nearly double the amount of corrosive, carbon-intensive tar sands crude it brings into our country,” said Sierra Club deputy national program director Michael Bosse. “Enbridge has been allowed to play by their own rules for too long at the expense of our water, air and climate, and the Sierra Club is taking legal action to stop this abuse.”

Among other things the pipeline would pass through three Native American Reservations.

“Honor the Earth represents Anishinaabeg people and the earth,” said Winona LaDuke, program director for Honor the Earth and a member of the White Earth Nation.

“We believe that nations should abide by their agreements, treaties, and laws. The Anishinaabeg continue to harvest and live the life the Creator gave us, within the north country and within the treaty areas, protected and recognized under federal law, including the 1837, 1854, 1855 and 1867 treaties. We know that new oil pipelines will not bode well for the fish, the wild rice and the medicines of this Akiing, this land. We also know that the U.S., through the State Department, should uphold its own laws and regulations, and not issue permits under the pressure of oil interests, over the interests of our country, people and land. Federal law requires environmental impact assessments, and the U.S. must uphold its own laws. New pipelines by the Enbridge Company and this illegal switching of lines do not serve our state or our country. We ask the U.S. State Department to uphold the law.”

SEE ALSO

  • State Dept blindly approves Enbridge scheme to move tar sands oil from Alberta through US bypassing permit process — posted August 28, 2014 — “Expanding the Alberta Clipper pipeline is entirely inconsistent with the administration’s commitment to taking aggressive action on climate change, and it’s also illegal. The President’s promise to decide Keystone XL based on its climate impacts is completely meaningless if the State Department is simultaneously permitting other tar sands pipelines behind closed doors.” —Doug Hayes, Sierra Club
  • ‘Keystone XL Clone’ to Pump Tar Sands Oil Starting Next Year by Anastasias Pantsios, EcoWatch, November 11, 2014 — new investigative report by editor Lou Dubose at the Washington Spectator reveals that the construction of a “Keystone XL clone” pipeline with almost the same capacity is already taking place. While TransCanada continues to battle the public outcry against its Keystone XL project, another company, Enbridge, is quietly building the Alberta Clipper pipeline. Like Keystone XL, it will pumped 830,000 oil barrels (bbl) a day of tar sands bitumen crude oil from the Alberta oil fields to U.S. refineries.

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