Pipeline companies can’t seem to stay out of court
It’s Wednesday, September 12, and pipeline companies can’t seem to stay out of court.
Two of the nation’s most controversial pipeline projects met major legal challenges this week.
First up: Keystone XL, the once-dead pipeline project revived by President Trump last year. Two Native American communities — the Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota — sued the Trump administration Monday. They say it failed to respect historical treaty boundaries and did a shoddy job analyzing the project’s potential environmental impact, including how the pipeline might affect their water or sacred lands.
Keystone XL would transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the Canadian tar sands through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, coming within a hundred miles of a dozen stretches of tribal land. Construction is slated to start next year — unless the court agrees with the Native American groups, who want the judge to block any construction on the pipeline and rescind the 2017 pipeline permit.
This week, construction on the Bayou Bridge pipeline was temporarily halted. The 163-mile project would run through Louisiana’s delicate Atchafalaya Basin, the biggest wetland and swamp in the country.
A local landowner had filed a lawsuit in July against Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, alleging that it had illegally cleared trees and dug trenches on his property in St. Mary Parish in southern Louisiana. The company says it’s allowed to build on private property because of a li’l something called “expropriation,” a process that lets companies use private land for “public benefit.”
A court hearing was scheduled for Monday — but at the last minute, Energy Transfer Partners came to an agreement with the opposition: It would halt construction on that small, key section of the route until late November, when the company faces another hearing over the same patch of land.
Energy Transfer Partners had set a deadline of October for completing construction on the pipeline. Now, they’re looking at the end of the year at best.
According to the Washington Post, Trump tells an average of 7.6 lies per day to the public. So it should not come as surprise that he hailed the government’s response to Puerto Rico — where half a million people did not have power for four months and nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — as an “incredible, unsung success.” Trump claimed that the island did not have power before the storm hit — a claim that fact-checkers quickly corrected.
The latest projections of Hurricane Florence’s path toward the U.S. suggest that the storm will remain just offshore for days, devastating the entire stretch of coast along North and South Carolina, before moving inland, according to CBS News. The National Hurricane Center projects that Florence will hit the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina on Thursday and Friday, bringing with it waves and wind that are “nothing like you’ve ever seen,” as North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper put it.
A natural gas line exploded in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on Monday morning, causing a large fire. The blaze began at 5 a.m. and was extinguished two hours later. But in that short timespan, it still had time to cause an upheaval: one home, two garages, and several vehicles were destroyed. As a precaution, 25 to 30 homes were evacuated, the local school district cancelled classes, and a section of Interstate 376 was closed.
Grist at the Global Climate Action Summit
This week, leaders, activists, and climate wonks from all over the world are descending on San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. The event, convened by California Governor Jerry Brown, is intended to reaffirm commitments to the Paris Agreement and strike new global agreements to more aggressively tackle climate change.
We will be covering the proceedings, along with our colleagues over at Mother Jones. And Wednesday, Grist will be hosting an after party immediately after a live taping of the Think 100% radio show and podcast, which features Hip Hop Caucus leaders Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. and Mustafa Santiago Ali, as well as 2018 Grist 50 member and “artivist” Antonique Smith.
If you’re in San Francisco, and want to check it out, RSVP here.