SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Sierra Club says the Secretary of State and the Army Corps of Engineers violated environmental law by approving the “Alberta Clipper” oil pipeline to bring tar sands crude oil from Canada across North Dakota and Minnesota to Wisconsin.
Three other environmental groups joined the Sierra Club in Federal Court, claiming the government violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued a permit to Enbridge Energy to build the pipeline “from U.S. refineries to tar sands production sites in Canada.”
The plaintiffs – which include the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the National Wildlife Federation – say the pipeline will “spur refinery expansions and modifications in the United States, leading to increased air and water pollution for residents of the Midwest and other states.”
The Alberta Clipper, a 384-mile project, includes Enbridge’s “Southern Lights” pipeline, which will transport the tar sands oil.
Because tar sands crude oil requires more energy to extract, greenhouse gas emissions from burning tar sands crude are higher than with fuel derived from conventional crude, according to the complaint. This “will cause increased emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and related harmful effects on the environment.”
The State Department’s environmental impact statement says the project will “increase the import of a safe and reliable supply of Canadian crude oil to replace portions of the imported crude coming from foreign sources that are substantially less reliable and stable.”
But the environmental groups say that this statement of purpose is “not reflected in Enbridge’s permit application, nor is it supported by laws or facts that indicate reduced importation of crude oil from other countries that may be perceived as suffering from instability.”
The plaintiffs also say the environmental impact statement did not address the pipeline’s potential damage to water and soil from spills and leaks. The proposed pipeline will end in Superior, Wisc.
Plaintiffs want the Alberta Clipper permit vacated and Enbridge enjoined from its pipeline construction. They are represented by Sarah Burt with Earthjustice of Oakland.