States File Lawsuit Claiming Biden Admin. Cannot Cancel Keystone Pipeline Permit

On Wednesday, 21 states, led by Texas and Montana, filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and members of his administration regarding the decision to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was designed to transport oil between Canada and the United States. Biden canceled the project through an executive order on the first day of his administration. 

“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,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a press release

The complaint alleged that Biden does not have the authority to change or contradict Congressional policies and that the Keystone XL Pipeline is related to interstate and international commerce, which are regulated through congressional powers. 

“The President has certain prerogatives to act on behalf of the United States in foreign affairs. But as far as domestic law is concerned, the President must work with and abide by the limits set by Congress—whether he likes them or not,” the complaint argued. “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.”

Additionally, the complaint said the Keystone pipeline is part of a system of pipelines and that it connected Canada to the U.S., through Montana. The plaintiffs said the government has studied both the environmental and economic impacts of the pipeline “for years” and repeatedly has decided that it “would have a negligible impact on the climate but significant impact on the economy and American energy independence.” 

Some of the same states involved in this lawsuit sent letters to Biden in February asking him to reconsider his decision to cancel the pipeline, arguing its purported economic importance. They claimed that the actual costs of the cancellation, including job elimination and loss of tax revenue, easements, and leases, would be detrimental to the states and that Biden rushed his decision to cancel the project. 

The states, including Texas, Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, are represented by their own attorneys general. 

During former President Donald Trump’s administration when the pipeline was in progress, environmental organizations filed a lawsuit, which is ongoing, claiming that the project breached federal laws and would cause significant harm to the environment. The defendants in that lawsuit, including the Bureau of Land Management, have not yet filed an answer to the allegations but recently asked for another deadline extension.