Description: Lawsuit challenging the 2021 issuance of nationwide permit to cover oil and gas pipeline projects.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Spellmon
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/18/2022 Order Download Case transferred to the federal district court for the District of Columbia. Montana District Court Found that It Was Not a Proper Venue for Challenge to Nationwide Permit 12. The federal district court for the District of Montana transferred to the district court for the District of Columbia a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s reissuance in early 2021of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 (which covers certain activities associated with oil and gas pipelines). The case presented the question of whether the federal defendants had rectified a lack of compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that the Montana district court identified in an earlier case. In the earlier case, the plaintiffs challenged the 2017 issuance of NWP 12, which would have permitted the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that the court said “posed a potential impact to ESA species in the State of Montana.” In the instant case, the court said the plaintiffs identified only one project that purported to use NWP 12 and that allegedly harmed their interests, but that the plaintiffs had identified no ESA-protected species or critical habitat in the area of that project. The court therefore found that no substantial parts of the events or omissions giving rise to the ESA claim had occurred in the District of Montana. The court further found that the only plaintiff that resided in Montana lacked standing to bring an ESA claim. 05/27/2022 Reply Download Reply brief filed by State of Montana in support of federal defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment. 05/27/2022 Reply Download Reply filed by NWP 12 Coalition in support of cross-motion for summary judgment. 05/20/2022 Reply Download Reply filed by federal defendants in support of cross-motion for summary judgment. 04/29/2022 Reply Download Plaintiffs filed reply in support of motion for summary judgment and opposition to defendants' cross-motions for summary judgment. 04/05/2022 Amicus Brief Download Brief filed by amicus curiae Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. 04/01/2022 Amicus Brief Download Brief filed by Edison Electric Institute as amicus curiae in support of federal defendants' summary judgment motion. 03/25/2022 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Federal defendants filed memorandum in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and in support of cross-motion for summary judgment. 08/06/2021 Motion to Intervene Download Motion to intervene filed by American Gas Association et al. 05/03/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Challenged 2021 Reissuance of Nationwide Permit for Oil and Gas Projects. Center for Biological Diversity and four other environmental groups filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Montana challenging the 2021 reissuance of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12, a general permit covering oil and gas pipeline projects under Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act. The groups alleged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not comply with the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Administrative Procedure Act, including because the Corps failed to adequately evaluate pipeline projects’ contribution to climate change. In particular, the groups alleged that the Corps failed to consider potential increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by pipeline construction and lifecycle emissions associated with oil and gas transported by pipeline projects. The court previously ruled that the 2017 issuance of NWP 12 violated the Endangered Species Act because the Corps failed to undertake Section 7 consultation. In the appeal of that earlier series of decisions, the Corps and other federal appellants have asked the Ninth Circuit to vacate the district court’s decisions because the case is now moot due to the reissuance of NWP 12 and President Biden’s revocation of the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline—the focal point of the earlier litigation. Keystone XL was authorized under the 2017 NWP 12.