Background: This April, a Montana Judge canceled a national permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline giving blanket approval to construct the pipeline across hundreds of rivers and streams. This was a substantial blow to pipeline construction, but not a final end to this dangerous project. In September, TransCanada applied for a more specific water certification from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. If approved, this certification would permit construction of the pipeline across 201 wetland and waterbody features including the Milk, Missouri, and Yellowstone Rivers.

The DEQ is accepting public comment specifically on the project’s impact on waterways, NOT the climate at large. Email comments to:

Wondering what to say or how to say it?

Start out with an introduction:

Dear Montana Department of Environmental Quality,

My name is ________ and I am a [something about yourself, a student, public lands user, parent, your job title if applicable]. I believe that the Keystone XL pipeline would put Montana’s waterways at risk and should not be built.

Leverage your story of self:

Center your own experience. Why does water quality for Montana communities matter to you? Do you recreate in public waters or public lands? Will your drinking or irrigation water be affected? Have you experienced limited access to drinking water? Might someone you care about be affected?

Support your personal concerns with some of these points:

  • Instead of rushing this review, the Department of Environmental Quality must thoroughly study and assess the impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline project on Montana Communities
  • This project has not been adequately reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) nor have independent studies on the risks and impacts been done. Industry funded studies are biased and cannot be the basis to claim that the project is safe.
  • Market conditions for tar sands oil transport and export have changed in the decade since KXL was first proposed and the current market analysis does not support further extraction or transport. KXL is not needed and the development of the tar sands is not inevitable.
  • The tar sands oil is some of the dirtiest oil in the world and also the most difficult to clean when it spills. The risk of oil spills is too great for this project to move forward, threatening waterways at more than 770 water crossings through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska — with over 200 water crossings in MT alone, including at least 26 wetlands.
  • The route crosses the Missouri River and the Ogallala Aquifer, sources of drinking water and irrigation intake. A spill in these waterbodies threatens the drinking water, food sources, and livelihoods of millions of people.

Say no to the certification for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline due to the irreparable harm it could cause communities and ecosystems along the route.


This information was initially prepared by staff at the Sierra Club and modified by staff at Forward Montana.