September 10th — Judge Michael Davis heard oral arguments Thursday in Minneapolis Federal court over the illegal backroom deal conducted between the U.S. State Department and Canadian pipeline company, Enbridge, to nearly double the capacity of its Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline without completing the environmental review required by law. The plaintiffs are White Earth Nation and a coalition of environmental groups including Honor the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota Conservation Foundation, MN350, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and National Wildlife Federation. The lawsuit charges the US State Department with bypassing environmental review and allowing Enbridge to use a blatantly illegal "switcheroo" scheme to skirt around the limitations of their cross-border Presidential Permit that allows them to bring oil from Alberta into the US via the Alberta Clipper pipeline.
In 2014, Enbridge replaced the steel pipe on a 16-mile section of the Alberta Clipper pipeline at the U.S. border and added valves so crude oil could be shifted between it and a parallel pipeline (the switcheroo) while awaiting approval for increased flows across the border. This bypass allowed significantly expanded shipments by Enbridge by shifting the flow between the two lines — but only at the border. More oil could be carried on Enbridge’s recently upgraded Alberta Clipper pipeline even though a federal environmental review of its increased flow was only getting started and still isn’t finished.
Summarizing the case, Ken Rumelt, Attorney for Plaintiffs stated, "The state department has approved two projects that collectively surpass Keystone XL pipeline’s ability to import oil into the United States. And it has done that without any kind of compliance with the mandatory national procedures-National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation. We firmly believe that the State Department has violated those federal statutes."
"Our tribes are deeply concerned about the State Department’s lack of consultation with tribal governments", stated Winona LaDuke, "as well as the process in which Enbridge seems to be able to get a pass without having to comply with federal law. We have a great deal of land and water and wildlife that is at stake. We would like to see some justice for native people."
To view further media coverage, visit the links below:
Diagram of the Enbridge Alberta Clipper bypass (Switcheroo)