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Native American and environmental groups filed suit Thursday in federal court in San Francisco challenging a proposed tar sands oil pipeline that would bring the dirtiest oil on Earth from Canada to the United States.

The U.S. State Department’s approval on Aug. 20 of Enbridge Energy's Alberta Clipper pipeline permits 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wis., for refining.

Call it a no-brainer—today's decision by environmental and Native American groups to oppose a pipeline that would move the dirtiest oil on Earth into the United States from Canada.

Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt, speaking on behalf of those groups, vowed to take legal action challenging the State Department for permitting the Alberta Clipper pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to Wisconsin.

"The State Department has rubber-stamped a project that will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in the communities near refineries that will process this dirty oil," Burt said.."The project’s environmental review fails to show how construction of the Alberta Clipper is in the national interest. We will go to court to make sure that all the impacts of this pipeline are considered."

 

Canada's vast boreal forest (named for Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind) covers more than a third of the country's total landmass and is a larger ecosystem than the Amazon. In addition to providing habitat for a diverse range of species including moose, lynx, grizzly bears and over 3 billion birds, the peat bogs and wetlands of the boreal forest are among the planet's most effective carbon sinks.

The Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's northernmost shores, and the Chukchi Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia, are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. These icy waters are crucial feeding and migration zones for bowhead, beluga and other whales, seals, walruses and migratory birds; for thousands of years they have also sustained a vibrant Native culture. But the Bush administration treated America's Arctic as just another place to be exploited, relentlessly pushing oil and gas drilling without regard for the consequences.

Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.

Grins are breaking out in Colorado because of a court decision this week that stymies oil and gas drilling on New Mexico's Otero Mesa grasslands.

The 10th Circuit Court ruled that drilling could not proceed on the Mesa because the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Protection Act with its leasing plan. In short, the court said, the plan failed to consider impacts on habitat, species and water, and didn't look at alternatives.

We’re breathing a cautious sigh of relief here in Florida on the issue of offshore drilling. A dangerous bill that would have lifted the state’s offshore drilling ban appears to be dead. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Our state Senate President told reporters today that the Legislature has run out of time to hear the offshore oil issue. The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives 70-43 on Monday. If it isn’t heard in the Senate, the bill will die.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.