President Joe Biden came into office with a flurry of executive orders, including one that revoked the construction permit for the cross-border segment of the Keystone XL pipeline approved by former President Donald Trump.
That move, ostensibly in pursuit of his administration’s climate-change goals, is now being challenged with a federal lawsuit filed by 21 largely Republican-led states, as Fox Business reports.
The pipeline permit
Montana and Texas, which serve as the beginning and endpoints for the U.S. portions of the pipeline system, have jointly taken the lead in pursuing the court action against Biden’s executive order.
The case was filed in federal court in the southern district of Texas and has been joined by 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.
As the 46-page lawsuit claims, Biden exceeded his constitutional authority in revoking the pipeline’s permit and various Cabinet officials similarly lack the statutory authority to implement the order, which would violate the Administrative Procedures Act.
After TransCanada, now known as TC Energy, initially applied for the permit in 2008, numerous studies and reviews showed that the pipeline would have a minimal impact on the environment along with positive economic effects.
Although environmental concerns dogged the project from its inception, Congress authorized its construction permit in 2011.
That congressional act gave then-President Barack Obama 60 days to either approve or deny the permit, opting for the latter on the basis that more time was needed to study its possible impacts. That allowed for the request to be resubmitted and the pipeline was authorized again with a permit that dates back to 2012.
As for the plaintiffs in the latest suit, the 21 states cited several counts for which they believe they are entitled to relief. The first involves Biden’s alleged violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers, which gives Congress, not the White House, the power to regulate interstate and international commerce.
Furthermore, the suit claims that the president had no right to act unilaterally to revoke a permit explicitly authorized by Congress and that his Cabinet officials also lacked such authority.
The states also contend that the revocation order was “arbitrary and capricious,” claiming that the decision was made without regard to the financial impact on affected states.
Perhaps the most persuasive argument, however, lies in the evidence that, despite Biden’s concerns about climate change, using the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than alternative modes of transportation. In the end, the states want a court to declare the executive order unconstitutional and to permanently enjoin the Biden administration from taking further action to effectuate the revocation.