Opponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline rally at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 20, 2017. Photo by Kevin Abourezk $ti

'Fair Warning': Tribes promise to block Keystone XL Pipeline

Tribes sue Trump over KXL Pipeline
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – On September 10, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Fort Belknap Indian Community sued the Trump Administration in U.S. District Court here for breaking the law in the Keystone XL Pipeline permitting process.

William Kindle, who was president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in August, when the tribal council authorized the lawsuit, called the project “blatant trespass into Sicangu Lakota territory,” in reference to the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty, which reserved the area around the pipeline route to the jurisdiction of the Great Sioux Nation.

“I want to make it perfectly clear and give fair warning to President (Donald) Trump, Secretary (Ryan) Zinke, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, TransCanada and their financial backers and potential investors, South Dakota Gov. (Dennis) Daugaard, Rep. (Kristi) Noem, and Senators (John) Thune and (Mike) Rounds that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Kindle said.

The Native American Rights Fund, a 45-year-old non-profit based in Boulder, Colorado, filed the suit on behalf of the two tribes, also known respectively as the Sicangu Lakota Oyate and the Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes.

“President Trump permitted the Keystone XL Pipeline because he wanted to. It was a political step, having nothing to do with what the law actually requires,” NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth remarked on the lawsuit.

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While on the presidential campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump held $250,000-$500,000-worth of stock in TransCanada Pipelines, Ltd., according to a 2015 personal public financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

He promised to reinstate the KXL Presidential Permit denied in the previous Administration of former President Barack Obama and succeeded in doing so within two months of taking office. The action allows the private construction project to span the U.S.-Canada border for the purpose of delivering Alberta tar-sands crude to refineries and export facilities on the Gulf of Mexico.

TransCanada Corporation already has overcome environmental, water and property rights advocates’ opposition to building the southern part of the line from the Texas Gulf Coast to Steele City, Nebraska. The corporation’s literature says the pipeline is the safest way to transport the heavy crude down south.

With only the treaty territory in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska left to finish building the route, the tribes’ filing joins another like it in the Great Falls Division of Montana U.S. District Court submitted in 2017 by the Indigenous Environmental Network and the North Coast Rivers Alliance, as well as a subsequent one here from the Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.

Like these organizations, the tribal governments express concern for the potential of water and air pollution from TransCanada Corp.’s estimated $10-billion attempt to build the pipeline across unceded Lakota Territory.

All three filings ask the court to rescind the Keystone XL Pipeline Presidential Permit, alleging the private infrastructure project violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the National Policy Act (NEPA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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