21 U.S. states sue Biden administration for lack of authority to withdraw pipeline permits

Texas joined other U.S. states in filing a class action lawsuit over the Biden administration’s decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday (March 17).

Led by Texas and Montana, a total of 21 states have now joined forces to file the lawsuit against the Biden Administration. The lawsuit states that Biden does not have the authority to unilaterally change energy policy set by the U.S. Congress, Paxton said in a statement (link) Wednesday.

“The power to regulate interstate and international commerce, including the granting or denial of permits for oil pipelines that cross international borders, is in the hands of Congress, not the president.” He said.

The lawsuit (pdf) also says the Biden administration’s decision, too, infringes on the states’ authority to regulate and control lands within their borders.

Keystone KL would serve as an expansion of the existing pipeline system, designed by TC Energy Co. to transport about 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada and Montana to refineries in Junction and Houston in the central U.S. In 2019, President Donald Trump (R-Texas) approved a permit for construction of the revoked 1.2-mile pipeline .

The pipeline’s construction and operating model is designed to create and sustain thousands of jobs and promote U.S. energy independence. It was also intended to improve business relations with Canada and provide tax revenue to high-poverty areas.

However, after taking office, Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, citing the need to curb climate change.

In an executive order signed in January, Biden said the revocation was necessary because the pipeline “undermines the national interest of the United States.”

“The United States and the world are facing a climate crisis,” the order said, “and domestically we will address the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, aimed at both reducing harmful emissions and creating good clean energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. With the majority of greenhouse gas emissions originating outside our borders, this engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever.”

“Retaining the Keystone XL pipeline permit is inconsistent with my administration’s economic and climate requirements.” Biden added.

However, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, also urged Biden last month to reverse his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Manchin said the project would provide jobs for unions and that the pipeline would be safer than transporting the oil by truck or train.

On Wednesday, Paxton and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Texas.

In addition, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming – a total of 21 states – have joined the The lawsuit.

Paxton said, “From his first day in office, President Biden has made it his mission to overturn everything the previous administration did, in complete disregard of the constitutional limits on his power.”

“His decision to revoke the pipeline permit is not only illegal, but will destroy the livelihoods of thousands of workers, their families and communities,” Paxton said in a statement, adding, “This administration continues to tout imaginary green energy jobs without recognizing that their actions in the real world will leave hard-working Americans without Food and shelter.”

“The power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce belongs to Congress, not the president. This is another example of Joe Biden exceeding his constitutional role to the detriment of Montanans.” Montana Attorney General Knutson said.

In a statement, Knutson said, “His actions are not even considered environmentally beneficial. His attempt to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline is a hollow virtue signal to his wealthy coastal elite donors. It shows Biden’s contempt for the rural communities in Montana and other states along the pipeline route that would benefit and support the project.”