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Montana's Attorney General asks state be included in Keystone lawsuit

Great Falls Tribune logo Great Falls Tribune 10/7/2019 David Murray, Great Falls Tribune
Pipe for the Keystone XL Pipeline is being stored at a pipe yard in Northern Phillips County in anticipation of the beginning of construction © TRIBUNE PHOTO/RION SANDERS Pipe for the Keystone XL Pipeline is being stored at a pipe yard in Northern Phillips County in anticipation of the beginning of construction

Montana's Attorney General's office has filed a motion with U.S. Federal Court in Great Falls, asking the court to allow Montana to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to put a halt to any work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

If approved, the motion would include Montana as a defendant in the lawsuit, and permit the state to provide legal support to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and TC Energy Corporation, the primary defendants in the case.

“The Keystone XL Pipeline will bring jobs and economic development to Montana,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in a news release issued Monday. “The obstructionist litigation against it has dragged on for far too long — it’s time to settle the matter and begin construction.”

Fox is running for governor. 

More: In the path of the pipeline: Montanans view benefits, risks differently

Work on Phase 1 of the pipeline, linking oil production facilities in northeastern Alberta to refineries and shipping terminals on the Texas gulf coast began in 2008. To date, three phases of the Keystone XL have been completed. A fourth phase, linking the Keystone XL terminus in Hardisty, Alberta, with the existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska, would travel 327 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

That project has been stalled since 2012 when the Obama administration rejected it. A variety of conservation groups have litigated to block the project on the grounds that a pipeline spill would pollute critical water supplies and harm wildlife habitat. The pipeline's original route plan proposed crossing the Sandhills wetland ecosystem in Nebraska, and the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world.

In July 2019 a coalition of environmental organizations led by Northern Plains Resource Council filed a federal lawsuit claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had illegally approved permits allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be constructed. The Montana Attorney General's motion to intervene would insert the state as a defendant in that action.

More: Keystone at a crossroads: Tribes question running oil pipeline under Missouri, Milk rivers

"The (pipeline) ... will run through Phillips, Valley, McCone, Dawson, Prairie, and Fallon counties in Montana," the AG's news release states. "It will include an “on-ramp” for transporting Montana oil to refineries. Along the route, TC Energy Corporation, the company building and operating the pipeline, will finance significant infrastructure improvements, including bridges, roads, and powerlines. The pipeline will also generate much-needed property tax revenue to fund schools and other public services in those counties."

This article originally appeared on Great Falls Tribune: Montana's Attorney General asks state be included in Keystone lawsuit

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