A federal district judge in Montana on April 15 ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law when it approved National Permit 12 (NWP12) to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline to cross streams and rivers under the Corps’ jurisdiction. The ruling invalidates Nationwide Permit 12, prohibiting the Corps from using this fast-tracked approval process for any pipelines nationwide.
The Corps begin issuing NWP12 in 1977 for categories of activities that it deems to be similar in nature and “will cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately and will have only minimal cumulative adverse effect on the environment.” The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is currently without an authorized NWP12. Until the district court decision is reversed on appeal, a new NWP12 for any pipeline project, including the ACP, cannot be issued.
The case had been brought by the Northern Plains Resource Council in 2019. The judge ruled that the “Corps failed to consider relevant expert analysis and failed to articulate a rational connection between the facts it found and the choice it made” regarding endangered species that were in the path of the project. Click here for a copy of the plaintiff’s statement commenting upon the decision (which also includes a link to the court decision).