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Native, Environmental Groups to Step Up Efforts After Keystone XL Ruling

After a federal court blocked construction, TransCanada says it's still committed to completing the Keystone XL pipeline. (Maureen/Flickr)
After a federal court blocked construction, TransCanada says it's still committed to completing the Keystone XL pipeline. (Maureen/Flickr)
November 12, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – After a federal district court last week blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, tribal leaders say they will step up efforts to protect sites, including the Ponca Trail of Tears, along the proposed route.

The court found that in addition to key environmental violations, the U.S. State Department failed to evaluate potential cultural impacts on more than 1,000 acres in Nebraska.

Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, says the ruling means the Trump administration will have to consult with tribal nations.

"The Trump administration could go in the wrong way and not reach out to tribes,” Goldtooth states. “And so we really are going to be pushing strong, and the Indigenous Environmental Network is working closely with a number of the tribes to make sure that their voices are not left out in this process."

Judge Brian Morris ruled that the Trump administration's arguments for reversing an Obama-era decision to deny TransCanada a permit to construct the pipeline were incomplete.

President Donald Trump called the decision "political" and "a disgrace."

The State Department and TransCanada said they will review the ruling, which could be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco.

The district court noted that Trump was not prohibited from reversing a previous administration's decision, but the move had to be based on evidence.

Cecilia Segal, a fellow with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the Trump administration chose to ignore data on the pipeline's contribution to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

"What we're seeing is that facts really do matter in court,” she states. “The Trump administration can't just pick and choose the facts it likes, and ignore the very real climate crisis that we're facing."

The court's injunction will remain in effect until the Trump administration reviews the pipeline's impact on climate change and Native American cultural sites.

The administration also must address the impact of potential oil spills on water resources and the economic viability of the project under falling oil prices.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE