A coalition of 21 states led by Texas and Montana sued to overturn President Joe Biden’s Keystone XL pipeline permit revocation. The lawsuit argues that the decision on “interstate regulation and international commerce” should have been left to Congress and not an executive order from the president.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a network of pipelines running from oilfields in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas. The network has the capacity to transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.
Biden, one day after his inauguration, signed an executive order blocking the completion of the project. The news was not well received by the Canadian government, which described President Biden’s decision as a disappointment.
A few days ago, more than 50 Montana Congress members sent a letter asking the president to reconsider his decision regarding the line’s closure and arguing the importance of the line’s operation to the state’s rural communities, but the White House provided no response.
What are the arguments behind the Keystone XL lawsuit?
Republican prosecutors supporting the lawsuit argued that the decision was arbitrary and capricious. Some of the states such as Kentucky and Kansas have Democratic governors, but the AGs of all 21 states are Republicans so there is unilateral support by the states for reopening the line sooner than later.
The lawsuit accuses the Biden administration of “seeking to use its power with respect to U.S. international policy to unilaterally contradict the domestic policy of Congress with respect to one of the most significant energy projects in a generation,” referring to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The states also call the U.S. president’s action a “baseless” decision as “it has been repeatedly concluded that the pipeline network will have a negligible impact but a significant impact to the American economy and energy independence,” as projections indicate that around 10,000 jobs might be lost.
The line’s construction company, TC Energy, has committed to operate the line 100% from renewable energy sources in order to have Biden’s approval. It also pledged to hire only unionized labor. However, these promises were not enough to dissuade the president from blocking construction of the line.
The lawsuit argues that revocation of the Keystone XL permit is only possible through a decision in both houses of Congress, so the Biden administration would have overreached in revoking the project’s permit.
In a statement on the states’ lawsuit, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen called Biden’s cancellation “empty virtue signaling to his wealthy coastal elite donors.”
“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,” the prosecutor added.
Should the lawsuit fail, more than 10,000 jobs that would be created by the operation of the line would be lost, which would mainly affect the rural populations of the United States, which would benefit the most from the operation of this project.