Press release: Northern Plains lead plaintiff in lawsuit against Keystone XL presidential permit – March 30, 2017

By Northern Plains Resource Council

The Northern Plains Resource Council today filed as lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The suit was filed in federal district court in Great Falls.

The lawsuit has been brought with a coalition of environmental groups. Northern Plains, a Montana-based conservation and family agriculture group, is challenging the permit based on outdated and incomplete information used to determine the project’s threat to the health of water, land, and communities the pipeline crosses.

The Trump Administration justified its approval of Keystone XL based on a January 2014 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Since then, pipeline spills, including two in the Yellowstone River, have shown the danger tar sands oil spills pose to water are far greater than the EIS assumes. The escalating threat of climate change to public safety is also significantly underestimated.

The Trump Administration’s State Department signed the permit last week.

The importance of water

Kate French

“As Montanans, we understand the importance of water,” said Kate French, Chair of Northern Plains Resource Council. “We depend on our rivers and our groundwater for drinking, for irrigation, and for our biggest economies – agriculture, recreation, and tourism. A threat to our water is a threat to our most basic needs.

“The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is an immediate and a future threat to water at the beginning, middle, and end of the project. At the beginning: tar sands mining pollution wreaks havoc on downstream communities. Here in the middle: the pipeline would cross two of our iconic and critical rivers, the Missouri and the Yellowstone. At the end: the Ogallala aquifer, which provides drinking water to millions of Americans. No matter where you look, the Keystone XL pipeline poses a critical threat to water.”

“Even TransCanada itself – Keystone XL’s parent company – estimates Keystone XL will have 11 significant spills over its lifetime.  Clearly, we are facing a serious situation – one that cannot be taken lightly.

“President Trump was wrong to approve Keystone XL. That’s why today, along with a coalition of other organizations, we filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s issuance of Keystone XL’s Presidential Permit.

“Together we must do everything we can to protect our water and our future.”

The view from eastern Montana

Eastern Montana farmers and ranchers also are worried about the Keystone XL pipeline.

The pipeline would cross the land of Wolf Point-area rancher Darrell Garoutte, also a member of Northern Plains Resource Council. “My ranch is on the path of the Keystone XL pipeline in Montana,” Garoutte said. “America doesn’t need this pipeline. A foreign corporation looking for export opportunities does. President Trump was wrong to put our land, water, and communities at risk for a company that has never proven its jobs promises nor adequately explained its history of leaks and ruptures.”

Dena Hoff

Dena Hoff, an irrigated farmer on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, also expressed her concerns. “The pipeline is going to be under the Yellowstone River upstream about 13 miles from my farm, and in July of 2015 we had a 12-inch pipeline break with devastating results; 30,000 gallons of crude oil went into the Yellowstone River then under the ice,” said Hoff. “And the pipeline that Keystone is planning for the Yellowstone is three times the size. It’s a 36-inch pipeline. And I have seen what a 12-inch pipeline break does and I really don’t ever want to see the results of a break in a 36-inch pipeline. It goes under every major river in the state, lots of small streams, it goes under irrigation canals. It is just a disaster waiting to happen.”



DNV Consulting (2006) Frequency-Volume Study of Keystone Pipeline. Report No. 70015849-2 rev 1. Report for TransCanada Pipelines, Ltd. May 2006.

Additional quotes from Kate French, Chair of Northern Plains:

“We have domestic clean energy alternatives available to us today. We don’t need this foreign-owned pipeline that would commit us to a dirty energy future that disrupts our climate and hurts public health.

“We’ve seen two major oil pipeline ruptures pollute the Yellowstone River in the last five years. Despite all this, Keystone XL still doesn’t have an Emergency Response Plan.