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Groups sue to protect wildlife from Keystone XL

A coalition of environmental groups are preparing to file another lawsuit over the approval process for the Keystone XL process, arguing that the federal government has failed to comply with the law regarding the protection of endangered species in considering the project.

The Hill reports:

The groups sent a formal notice of intent to sue Thursday to the State Department – which is heading the federal review of the project – and several other agencies.

“State and [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] have failed to conduct formal consultation to consider the effects of the Keystone XL Pipeline project (Project) to the Whooping Crane, Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover, Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, Pallid Sturgeon, and Arkansas River Shiner,” states theOct. 27 letter from the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and Nebraska Wildlife Federation.

The State Department issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) in August that gave the project a largely favorable review, and hopes to make a final decision by the end of the year. The letter is designed to ensure the option to litigate if the permit is issued.

The groups, in the letter, allege the “biological assessment” prepared alongside the EIS and a subsequent “biological opinion” prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were shoddy in their analysis of the pipeline’s effect on the species.

There are several other lawsuits in the courts concerning the project, including one challenging construction work already being done on the project before it has been approved and several state suits challenging the use of eminent domain to seize land for the project.

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