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Kerry Sued over Keystone XL Clone

The lawsuit describes a Canadian firm openly disregarding the law and an acquiescent State Department
by Lou Dubose

Nov 18, 2014 | Blog



Last week The Washington Spectator published an investigative report describing Enbridge Energy’s plan to circumvent U.S. law and open the valves on a transborder pipeline that will carry roughly the same amount of tar-sands oil into the U.S. as TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

Enbridge and TransCanada are both Canadian companies.

Like the Keystone XL, Enbridge’s Line 67 (also known as the Alberta Clipper) requires a presidential permit issued by the U.S. State Department.

Unlike TransCanada, Enbridge is not waiting for the permit.

Three weeks ago, while I was reporting on our story, Sierra Club staff attorney Doug Hayes told me that Enbridge’s “scheme” is illegal, a flagrant violation of the National Environmental Protection Law.

When I asked Hayes if the Sierra Club intended to file suit, he said: “I’m not in a position to answer that question.”

Does John Kerry, a “champion of the environment,” know his State Department has turned a blind eye to Enbridge’s plan to import into the United States 800,000 barrels of tar-sands crude per day?

Last week the Sierra Club answered it, joining five other plaintiffs, including the regional indigenous people’s collective White Earth Nation, to sue Secretary of State John Kerry. The suit, filed in federal court in Minneapolis, asks the court to set aside the State Department’s permit and require Enbridge to go through the process required by law before it begins to flow 800,000 barrels of tar-sands from Canada into the U.S.

We reported most of the allegations in the lawsuit.

But in stark legal terms the suitWhite Earth Nation, Honor The Earth Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota Conservation Foundation, MN350, Center For Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and National Wildlife Federation vs. John Kerry—describes a Canadian corporation openly disregarding the law and an acquiescent State Department that is contemptuous of the law, the public, and the public interest.

In a telephone press conference announcing the lawsuit, Hayes reiterated much of what he told me weeks earlier.

Federal law requires any company building a pipeline across the U.S. border to apply for a presidential permit, issued by the State Department.

That permit requires an environmental assessment of the project, which ensures that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.

As we reported, Enbridge has existing pipelines north and south of the U.S.-Canada border. But no pipeline with a permit to cross the border.

In the telephone conference, Hayes describes the use of an existing pipeline to cross the border and bypass the permit.

Enbridge’s existing cross-border line (Line 3), Hayes said, “is old, it was built in 1968 and has a history of safety problems and can’t handle this increase in capacity.

What Enbridge is actually doing is building an entirely new high-strength pipeline across the international border, next to Line 3 and next to the Alberta Clipper and that’s what it is planning to use.

Enbridge claims that this new pipeline qualifies as maintenance of the 1968 pipeline. It’s actually a new process.

All of this is glaringly evident.

Enbridge has two lines crossing the border, the existing Line 3—and the Alberta Clipper (Line 67)—awaiting a presidential permit.

Now it has three, because it has built a new Line 3 adjacent to the old Line 3.

“Enbridge admits,” Hayes said, “that the only reason it is doing this is that the State Department review has taken over a year and it doesn’t want to wait any longer.”

In the story we ran last week, we reported that Enbridge wrote to the State Department on June 24, saying it was moving ahead with or without the presidential permit.

The lawsuit reveals that on June 13, 2014, “Enbridge met privately with State Department officials to propose a ‘Bypass Project,’ which would import up to 800,000 bpd of heavy tar-sands crude oil on the New Border Segment.”

What other communication exists between Enbridge and the State Department regarding the pipeline?

Perhaps now we will find out.

The lawsuit also describes a Freedom of Information Act request that the Sierra Club filed on March 25, 2014, ordering the State Department to release information pertaining to Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.

The Freedom of Information Request Act requires agencies to respond to requests within 20 days. Eight months later, the State Department has yet to release a single Enbridge document. Nor has it explained the delay.

While the suit asks the State Department to require Enbridge to go through the permitting process, it also asks a federal judge to enforce the Freedom of Information Act and order the State Department to release the documents (which should include the authorized capacity for Line 3).

When we spoke three weeks ago, Hayes told me that he wondered if Secretary of State Kerry, “a champion of the environment,” was aware of what State Department officials were allowing Enbridge to get away with.

Perhaps the lawsuit will get Kerry’s attention and answer that question.

—Lou Dubose

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.

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  1. I congratulate you for the first time in print, having congratulated you many times to friends in person and via forwards, for the quintessential and courageous work you continue to do.

  2. Canada has both a Pacific and Atlantic coast. If they want a pipeline so bad, why can’t they build it to one of their own coasts; build their own refinery on their own coast; POLUTE their own environment so they can make all that money selling their extremely dirty oil to the world. That will make Canada like all the other third world nations that depend on the sale of extracted minerals for their wealth. https://www.autosubrogate.com

    • HI Tom…u make a relevant pt. about toxic tar sands polluting Canada, esp. those gross tar ponds the size of Florida…here’s what we’re doing 2 stop it
      1 Stop Energy East pipeline xpansion that threatens beluga whales in the St. Lawrence
      2. Stop the reversal of Line 9 that goes thru my city of Toronto and threatens our water supply
      3. Stop Northern Gateway thru BC and 1st nations lands..tankers loading up tar sands oil 4 China
      4. Block Keystone XL and Alberta Clipper from doing what Endbridge did to the Kalamazoo River…billion $$ spill
      6.END petro-tyranny by divesting hedge fund investors from tar sands production
      CANADIANS need your help TED 2 create tar sands free zones across North America ~ solidarity 4-ever.

  3. I would have loved to forwrd this to friends who don’t subscribe,
    but couldn’t find any way to do it.

  4. Jack,

    Forwarding a link to friends is ease. It works the same way where ever you go. Select the text in the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) website address box at the very top of your web browser. It is part of the title bar of you web browser window. When I say “select the text”, I mean just click your mouse pointer in the text box. Depending on your web browser (mine is IE — Microsoft internet explorer), the text will be automatically selected; i.e., the text content will turn into reverse video. Copy it to your clipboard (Ctrl-C); Paste the content of your clipboard into the body of the e-mail message you are going to send to your friend (Ctrl-V); Send the e-mail.

    It’s that simple. If you need more help. Contact me. Point to my name which will pop-up a link to my website. Just double click my name. You will find the contact info there. Oh, here is the link to make it even easier: https://www.autosubrogate.com

  5. Why do we not simply require anyone who proposes to do something as heatedly objected to as this is to post a cash bond in the amount of the total possible cost of the worst case disaster recovery?

    The maximum cost of the potential disaster must not be left for such a project’s proponents (governmental or participant) to establish. Rather, the total amount should be established by all citizens who would be affected by any damage to their property, health and welfare.

    Given that, we should certainly go ahead with the Keystone project as soon as possible AFTER we have (IN HAND) the total amount of cash that would be required to repair any possible damage the Keystone owners cause to OUR environment.

    Politicians who are not professional geologists must NOT be in control of or have access to this assessment, nor should any major petroleum stockholder or petroleum industry mogul.

  6. Thanks for the reporting. I was unaware of the whole Enbridge story, despite living in one of the Northern Minnesota counties the pipe will traverse. An 800 thousand gallon spill in the Mississippi Headwaters like Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River debacle is something we’d like to avoid. Thanks for helping raise awareness on this, for all of us who thought the war was won with Keystone.

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