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In-Depth Interview: Attorney Steve Volker Predicted Trump’s Claim to Be Above the Law

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Steve Volker won the injunction blocking KeystoneXL construction, and the appeal.  He predicted Trump would claim to be above the law; he was right.This interview was recorded on March 21, 2019, shortly after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court injunction granted on November 8, 2018.  When asked to predict the likely basis for a Supreme Court appeal, Volker predicted that Trump and Trans-Canada would claim that a “presidential permit” is beyond the review of the courts.

Defying the courts, Trump ignored the rulings and issued a new presidential permit for KeystoneXL on March 29, and Volker’s prediction was affirmed.

This podcast was first released at WhoWhatWhy

Our podcast guest today is Stephan Volker, the veteran environmental lawyer who represents the lead plaintiffs in the case: the North Coast Rivers Alliance and the Indigenous Environmental Network. The injunction was issued by a federal judge in Montana last November, and the appeals court found that TransCanada is “not likely to prevail on the merits.”

At this stage, construction of the pipeline is completely halted. Volker expects TransCanada, in its appeal to the Supreme Court, to argue that the “presidential permit” issued by Donald Trump is not reviewable by the courts, effectively placing an act of the president above the law.

Volker, based in Berkeley, CA, served for many years at the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and EarthJustice. He’s litigated over 300 environmental cases in his career.