Montana needs Keystone pipeline to move forward

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TC Energy’s Keystone pipeline facility is seen in Hardisty, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

For over a decade, TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada Corp, has been striving to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They have diligently obtained permits in every state along the planned and alternative routes, studied the potential impacts of the project, and taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of the environment and the communities along the route.

Despite these efforts, time and again they have been faced with baseless challenges from the environmental community. Most recently these challenges have taken the form of a series of lawsuits aimed at delaying the pipeline by calling for unnecessary studies and duplicative environmental reviews. And while the lawyers battle, the people of Montanans are left waiting for the thousands of jobs and the millions of dollars in tax revenue the Keystone XL project would create.

Although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned one injunction to halt construction on the project, two more lawsuits have been filed as part of an ongoing attempt by extreme environmental groups to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

One of these suits, filed by attorneys for the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club, and others, calls for the invalidation of the permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers because the environmental groups claim the Army Corps did not fully account for climate change and the “cumulative impacts” of the project in the analysis they conducted of the project.

A second suit, alleges that President Trump’s executive order allowing construction of the pipeline violated treaties and the National Environmental Policy Act process.

What both lawsuits fail to consider is the rigorous reviews already conducted of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Since TC Energy filed its first Keystone XL application in 2008, the project has been reviewed at the local, state, and federal levels by multiple agencies. In fact, the U.S. State Department has analyzed the Keystone XL pipeline project three separate times—in 2011, 2014, and 2018—and concluded each time that the project is safe and poses no significant impact to the environment.

Additionally, in a 2014 environmental impact statement conducted by the U.S. State Department, utilizing the Keystone XL pipeline to move crude oil from western Canada to the United States would generate 28-42% less greenhouse gas emissions than if the crude was transported by rail.

It’s clear that Keystone XL has been evaluated with the highest degree of scrutiny and that the project is ready for construction. And in a recent court decision, the Nebraska Supreme Court agreed. Their decision to uphold the permit issued by the Nebraska Public Service Commission gave TC Energy the green light to proceed with an amended route through Nebraska.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been reviewed and permitted in all three states along the route. The only thing holding back construction now is the fabricated concerns of environmental groups. It is time to put an end to the frivolous lawsuits and move the Keystone XL pipeline forward.

Richard Dunbar is a Phillips County Commissioner and president of the Montana Association of Oil, Gas, and Coal Counties.

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