A federal judge in Minnesota has dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the construction of two pipelines from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. Sierra Club v. Clinton, No. 09-2622 (D. Minn. 10/19/10). One of the pipelines would transport heavy crude oil from tar sands in Canada to the United States, while the other would transport light crude from the United States to Canada to dilute the southbound heavy crude.
Filed by several environmental groups in September 2009, the lawsuit alleged that the U.S. Department of State and other agencies violated NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act when they approved permits for the pipelines, which will run through wetlands and national forests. The complaint alleged that oil sands extraction in Canada would have a significant environmental impact in the United States and that defendants failed to provide evidence that U.S. demand for the crude from Canada necessitated building the massive project or that alternative sources were adequately explored.
The court disagreed with plaintiffs, ruling that the government’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) justified construction of the 326-mile U.S. portion of the pipelines. According to the court, the Canadian oil sands were being developed independently of the pipelines and the administrative record “supports [d]efendant’s conclusion that there is not a sufficient relationship between the [pipelines] and the development of the oil sands. Moreover, the oil sands development is under the jurisdiction of Canada.”