21 States Sue Biden Administration Over Revoked Keystone XL Permit

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Writer
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
March 18, 2021 Updated: March 18, 2021

A coalition of states has filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and his administration over the president’s decision to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Led by Texas and Montana, 21 states have jointly filed a lawsuit against Biden arguing that the president didn’t have the authority to unilaterally change an energy policy that Congress had set when he revoked the permit on his first day in office.

The lawsuit argues that only Congress has the power to regulate interstate and international commerce, including granting or rejecting permits for oil pipelines that cross an international border.

“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. 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,” Paxton said in a statement on March 17.

“This administration continues to tout imaginary green-energy jobs, without any recognition that their actions in the real world will make it impossible for hard-working Americans to put food on the table.”

The 1,200-mile Keystone XL, which was to be constructed as an extension to an existing pipeline system, was designed by TC Energy Corp. to transport approximately 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada and Montana to junctions in the middle of America and to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The permit to construct a 1.2-mile segment of the pipeline that was revoked had been approved by President Donald Trump in 2019.

The oil sands pipeline’s construction and operation were modeled to create and sustain thousands of jobs and advance the United States’ energy independence. It was also designed to improve commercial relations with Canada and provide tax revenues to high-poverty areas.

In his executive order signed in January, Biden said the revocation was necessary because the pipeline “disserves the U.S. national interest.”

“The United States and the world face a climate crisis,” the order stated. “At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever.

“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” Biden added.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen argued that there is no “perceived environmental benefit to [Biden’s] actions.”

“His attempt to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline is an empty virtue signal to his wealthy coastal elite donors. It shows Biden’s contempt for rural communities in Montana and other states along the pipeline’s path that would benefit from and support the project,” Knudsen said in a statement.

Other critics have said that the ban wouldn’t stop oil from being produced, and that it would be transported by rail or truck instead of through the pipeline.

The states argue that Biden hadn’t consulted with them before making his decision, “nor did he consider the far-reaching consequences his decision would impose on Plaintiffs.”

“The pipeline States, as well as their counties, local communities, and school districts stood to gain tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue from the construction and operation of the Keystone XL. The total estimated property tax from the Keystone XL project in the first full year of operations would be approximately $55.6 million spread across 27 counties in just three States—Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska,” the lawsuit states (pdf).

“These revenues would particularly benefit poorer rural areas, providing a much-needed influx of resources to fund important public and community services.”

Revocation of the permit, the states continued, will cost them and their communities “tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue” and business and job opportunities for residents.

The states are asking the federal court in Texas to declare that the Biden administration had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when he revoked the permit and seek to block the Biden administration from enforcing its order to revoke the Keystone XL permit.

The White House and Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The other states that have joined 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. ​

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Writer
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.