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Washington, DC, July 6, 2020 – Today, the United States Supreme Court declined a request from TC Energy and the Trump administration to allow Keystone XL to proceed under Nationwide Permit 12, a key water crossing permit for pipelines that a district court found unlawful. The court also issued a partial stay of the district court’s decision as it applies to other pipelines while a full appeal of the decision moves forward. 

In April, the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, vacating the permit and prohibiting the Corps from using this fast-tracked approval process for Keystone XL and other pipeline projects. The Army Corps had pushed to allow pipeline construction under the permit to continue during its appeal of the ruling in the Ninth Circuit. That court rejected the Army Corps’ request. The Supreme Court’s order partially reverses the Ninth Circuit’s decision, allowing other pipelines to continue using Nationwide Permit 12, but continuing to bar the construction of Keystone XL through rivers, streams, and wetlands while the appeal is heard. 

TC Energy also faces additional roadblocks to completing Keystone XL, including other legal challenges, oil market chaos, and a recent commitment by Joe Biden to rescind the pipeline’s permit should he be elected president. 

“More than ten years after it was proposed, Keystone XL is as far as it’s ever been from being completed. We’re glad to see the court acknowledge that the Trump administration is not above the law and cannot just ignore critical environmental protections in pursuit of building this dangerous tar sands pipeline,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “Keystone XL would threaten communities, wildlife, and clean drinking water along its route, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure it is blocked for good.” 

“This is an important win that will protect imperiled wildlife from the dangers of Keystone XL,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The courts have made clear that we can’t continue to sacrifice vulnerable species so giant corporations can profit from dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate.”

“Farmers, ranchers, tribal communities, and the clean water they depend on are a bit safer today thanks to the high court upholding protections for our environment and justice system,“ said Dena Hoff, a Montana farmer and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council. “The Keystone XL pipeline is a threat to our air, land, water, and climate. We are glad the Supreme Court has rejected this effort to ram through this dangerous Canadian tar sands project.”

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“The Supreme Court sided with clean water and the people today,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder. “The government has abused the Army Corps’ permitting process, putting our water at risk just because Big Oil demanded a fast approval process. We will continue to fight to protect our clean water for future generations.

“Today the Supreme Court rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to skirt the law and ignore environmental protections to ram through a dirty pipeline project,” said Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth. “For years concerned Americans have fought against this climate-destroying pipeline and today we are one step closer to defeating it for good.”

“Today’s ruling makes clear that the builders of Keystone XL can’t rely on a flawed, rubber-stamped permit to force the project’s construction through our wetlands, streams, and rivers,” said Cecilia Segal, an attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “It’s a resounding victory for the communities and imperiled species living along this pipeline’s proposed route. Keystone XL is not in our national interest and should never be built.”


The Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.