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Sierra Club sues US for access to Keystone XL environmental study

02.11.2014  | 

The Army Corps has wrongly withheld records describing the pipeline’s path in relation to communities and sensitive water resources, according to the environmental group’s complaint filed in federal court.



Keystone XL pipeline records are being sought by the Sierra Club in a lawsuit claiming the US Army Corps of Engineers has to make public documents related to its review of TransCanada Corp.’s project.

The Army Corps has wrongly withheld records describing the pipeline’s path in relation to communities and sensitive water resources, according to the environmental group’s complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco.

TransCanada applied more than five years ago for a permit to build the pipeline through the US heartland, connecting oil sands in Alberta with refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. The 875-mile (1,409-kilometer) pipeline would run from the US-Canada border to Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would connect to an existing network.

In its final environmental review, the US State Department on Jan. 31 found the Canada-US oil pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions because the oil sands in Alberta will be developed anyway.

The report increases the likelihood that the $5.4 billion pipeline ultimately wins approval, perhaps as soon as July, according to analysts including Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners in Washington.

Global Warming

Environmental groups such as Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council have opposed Keystone, saying it would exacerbate global warming.

The Sierra Club has three times requested documents that are “crucial for a full understanding of the pipeline’s impacts and areas threatened by a tar sands oil spill,” according to the complaint. The group seeks a court order requiring the Army Corps to turn over all documents the Sierra Club sought in a freedom-of-information request.

The Army Corps has refused to turn over the records based on its “deliberative process” privilege that the Sierra Club argues doesn’t apply to documents filed by private parties such as TransCanada, according to the complaint. Sierra appealed the decision and argues in its complaint that the Army Corps has failed to rule on its appeal by a required deadline.

Gene Pawlik, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 14-cv-00538, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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mark callaway

The main issue to me is you are pumping a slurry with a high concentration of solids ( sand ) which is very abrasive and wears bends and valves and pumps . Then you throw in the carcinogens and toxic fluids in the mixture and you are going to have one hell of a mess when it leaks or ruptures somewhere. That will happen . This industry does NOT police itself or divulge problems . Their is no upside to the U.S. We are the # 2 producer of oil products in the WORLD today behind Saudi Arabia . Their calling for gas prices around $4.00/gallon this summer . You tell me why we need to ship and refine products we WILL NOT consume in this country ?

Allen Botha

Does the Sierra Club not realize at the pipeline itself does not contribute to global warming - and that a pipeline does not produce any greenhouse gasses. The construction of the pipeline may contribute in a very minor way, but "way more" greenhouse gas (CO2) is contributed by cities and town that have unsynchronized traffic lights (major cause of stopping and starting of vehicles). Perhaps the Sierra Club should place more concern on this issue than the pipeline!!!

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