Today, the Great Falls Tribune published an opinion editorial by former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Tom Magness on a frivolous courtroom play by seven environmental groups who filed a lawsuit to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As Magness notes, this latest challenge “follows a lengthy pattern of obstructionism that undermines the regulatory process, our courts and, ultimately, our nation’s energy security.”
The lawsuit alleges the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was too broad and didn’t effectively assess the unique conditions of the project.
In response to this assumption, Magness said:
“That’s simply not true. In fact, the allegation disregards the purpose of the Army Corps’ longstanding policy to effectively and efficiently consider major infrastructure projects and simultaneously account for distinct project-based circumstances. The Nationwide Permit 12 – issued under the Clean Water Act – is intended to streamline the regulatory process by first ascertaining if a project meets broad-stroke requirements, and then conducting a methodical review of special considerations.”
Despite what these environmental groups allege, the Corps permitted the Keystone XL Pipeline after conducting thorough research and full consideration of the project’s environmental impacts. Magness notes in the article that the permit will not be the last “checkpoint” for the pipeline:
“It bears noting, too, that the Keystone XL Pipeline has been reviewed multiple times as a result of starts and stops to its construction. In fact, Keystone submitted its initial application for the project in 2008. The U.S. Department of State issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project as far back as January 2014 – and concluded that the project’s construction and operation could be safely achieved.”
This lawsuit is yet another attempt by environmentalists and activist groups to hinder construction of necessary energy infrastructure. The same delay tactics were deployed during construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and they were wildly unsuccessful. In fact, protests left North Dakota taxpayers with nearly a $40 million bill to cover law enforcement and other protest-related costs. Nonpartisan regulatory agencies filled with dedicated career-professionals like the Army Corps work hard to ensure the safety and reliability of infrastructure across the country. Extraneous lawsuits like this latest challenge hinder innovation and progress at taxpayer’s expense.