By JOEL ROSENBLATT
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
The Army Corps has wrongly withheld records describing the
pipelines path in relation to communities and sensitive
water resources, according to the environmental groups
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.
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 pipelines
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 doesnt 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).