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U-S State Department Named in Oil Pipeline Lawsuit

August 21, 2008

Dickinson, ND – The Natural Resources Defense Council, Dakota Resource Council in North Dakota and Dakota Rural Action in South Dakota are pursuing their lawsuit against the U.S. State Department to stop construction of the international Keystone Oil Pipeline project.

Mark Trechock with the Dakota Resource Council says they're concerned with a federal waiver that allows thinner-walled pipe to transport oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada south to U.S. markets. He says North Dakota farmers are worried a spill could contaminate their land and water supply, and have larger environmental effects.

"As they sunk their teeth into this issue, they saw that this is part of a major effort to develop some of the most highly-polluting fuels ever known from the Alberta tar sands. The Environmental Integrity Project estimates its carbon dioxide footprint as three times that of conventional gasoline. This is not your father's gasoline."

The organizations are represented by Carrie La Seur with Plains Justice, an Iowa-based public interest law center. She says the lawsuit claims the U.S. State Department failed to investigate the full health and environmental impacts of the Keystone project before a presidential permit was issued.

"The primary concern of landowners along the pipeline route in rural areas is that the United States has issued, for the first time, a waiver of federal pipeline safety standards for the portion coming through the Dakotas that will allow the oil to run at greater pressure through a thinner pipeline than safety standards would otherwise allow."

The lawsuit asks the court for an injunction to halt construction on the pipeline until a complete environmental impact statement is finished. The pipeline's developers say there's a low probability of any pipeline leakage, and that if it did happen it would still be manageable.

David Law/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ND