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Twenty-One States Attorneys General Sue the Biden Administration for Cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the attorneys general of 21 states have joined in a federal lawsuit to overturn President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Pipeline History

The 1,200 mile Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada to Nebraska, where it would be transferred to other pipelines for shipment to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico.

The vast majority of the pipeline did not need federal approval and has been built or connected in segments stretching from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the Midwest. In June 2017, the U.S. State Department approved granted the federal permit necessary to build small remaining portion of the transnational pipeline.

Among the first actions Joe Biden took just hours after being sworn in as the new President of the United States was to sign an executive order (EO) revoking the federal permit needed to complete the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

‘Unilateral Decision’

The states joining Texas and Montana in the lawsuit include, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

In the March 17 lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Texas, the attorneys’ general argue the pipeline falls under Congress’ Constitutionally delegated interstate commerce power because it will pass through several states on its way to refineries on the Gulf Coast. As such, under the Constitution, Biden should not have not have final say over whether the pipeline is built.

“Revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit is a regulation of interstate and international commerce, which can only be accomplished as any other statute can: through the process of bicameralism and presentment,” the states’ complaint says. “The president lacks the power to enact his ‘ambitious plan’ to reshape the economy in defiance of Congress’s unwillingness to do so.

“The Executive’’ unilateral decision to revoke the Keystone XL permit is contrary to the constitutional structure to which the states agreed at the time of ratification,” says the states’ complaint. “The Executive’s decision also encroaches upon the states’ abilities to steward and control the lands within their borders.”

‘Disregard for … Constitutional Limits’

​Biden’s Keystone decision is both illegal and poorly thought out since it undermines the energy independence America achieved under former President Donald Trump, said Paxton in a statement.

“Since his first day in office, President Biden has made it his mission to undo all the progress of the previous administration, with complete disregard for the Constitutional limits on his power,” Paxton said. “His decision to revoke the pipeline permit is not only unlawful but will also devastate the livelihoods of thousands of workers, their families, and their communities.”

In cancelling the pipeline through an executive order, Biden exceeded his authority in an effort to please his radical constituency, said Knudsen in a statement.

Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone permit is “an empty virtue signal to his wealthy coastal elite donors,” Knudsen’s statement said. “The power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce belongs to Congress – not the President.

“This is another example of Joe Biden overstepping his constitutional role to the detriment of Montanans,” said Knudsen.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.(hsburnett@heartland.org)is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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