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Keystone XL Dispute Ends Months After Project Cancellation

March 14, 2022, 1:54 PM

Environmental groups’ legal challenge to former President Donald Trump’s permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is finally over after TC Energy canceled the project and removed the pipeline, a Montana federal court ruled.

Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance argued Trump’s presidential permit to build a cross-border segment of the pipeline violated the U.S. Constitution. President Joe Biden revoked the permit in January 2021, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the case wasn’t moot in May because there was still buried pipe that could be removed.

TC Energy sought approval from the Bureau of Land Management to remove the buried segment. The agency approved the company’s decommissioning plan, and TC Energy told the court in October that it had finished removing the buried pipeline. The company told the court it also completed measures to restore the land disturbed by the project.

These latest developments have rendered the case moot, the court said March 11.

Texas and 22 other states sued Biden and challenged his authority to revoke the permit. But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas said in January the case was moot because TC Energy removed the pipeline and relinquished its permits. None of the parties appealed the court’s decision.

There’s no longer a possibility that the Texas court will reinstate the challenged permit, the Montana court said. As a result, the court can’t give the environmental groups any relief that wouldn’t be “purely advisory,” according to the ruling.

VIDEO: Are New Pipelines Doomed? Oil & Gas Delivery Explained

Chief Judge Brian Morris dismissed the case.

Patten, Peterman, Bekkedahl & Green PLLC and the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker represented the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance.

The Justice Department represented the federal government. Sidley Austin LLP and Crowley Fleck PLLP represented TransCanada Keystone Pipeline and TC Energy.

The case is Indigenous Envtl. Network v. Trump, D. Mont., No. 4:19-CV-00028, 3/11/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maya Earls in Washington at mearls@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com