Environmental activists vowed over the weekend to fight the Keystone XL oil pipeline to the bitter end, insisting the Trump administration’s approval of the long-delayed project will not be the final word.
Powerful green groups are launching a two-pronged strategy to block the pipeline in the streets and in the courts. First, they intend to use a state review process in Nebraska — where Keystone still does not have a legal route, despite federal approval of the project — to delay any movement forward.
Nebraska state officials charged with approving the pipeline’s path say a decision shouldn’t be expected until September at the earliest, and environmentalists could drag that process out even longer.
The second piece of their plan centers on the kind of guerrilla warfare tactics seen throughout last year during the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline.
Activists say they’ll organize protests and even set up camps along Keystone’s proposed route, potentially blocking construction of the project if and when it’s set to begin.
“Our dedication to stop this pipeline isn’t just for the future determination of our lives as human beings but also for the future of all generations of life, and that we stay true to the understandings of protecting mother earth to the fullest degree and do it in a prayerful way,” Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, told reporters on a conference call Friday in which a coalition of tribal and environmental groups outlined their strategy.
“We fully expect to stand united and to continue resistance and carry forth the fire of mobilization in the fight we saw against the Dakota Access pipeline to this next project here,” he continued.
The State Department’s approval of Keystone on Friday capped off a nearly decade-long fight at the federal level. The Obama administration delayed a decision on the project for nearly eight years before finally rejecting the pipeline in late 2015, citing concerns over climate change.
The Trump administration’s approval on Friday reversed that decision, and in the process fulfilled one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign promises.
The president was joined by officials from TransCanada, the company that will build the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, when he made the announcement in the Oval Office.
“The fact is that this $8 billion investment in American energy was delayed for so long, it demonstrates how our government has too often failed its citizens and companies over the past long period of time,” Mr. Trump said. “Today we take one more step in putting the jobs, wages and economic security of American citizens first.”
But the move does not mean the pipeline can immediately break ground. The Nebraska Public Service Commission has only just started a lengthy process to review Keystone’s proposed route through the state.
Years of legal and regulatory hurdles have greatly complicated efforts to finalize the pipeline’s path. This latest round of review proceedings will include public hearings over the summer, with the expectation of a decision sometime in September, possibly later.
More than 100 stakeholders in Nebraska, including powerful environmental groups, have filed court motions to intervene in the legal proceeding.