State Attorneys General Ask Biden to Reconsider Canceling Keystone Pipeline

On Thursday, Mike Hunter, attorney general for Oklahoma, sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to reconsider canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline and allow workers to resume construction on the project. Hunter argued that the project is “good for America.” 

“My letter to President Biden speaks from the heart as a fourth-generation Oklahoman who knows how important the oil and gas industry is to my fellow Oklahomans and Americans as a whole,” Hunter said in a press release. “Killing Keystone destroys the lives, livelihoods, careers and futures of those I love and care about. It also hurts local economies. Environmentally speaking, the Keystone is a far better way to transport crude to the Gulf Coast, rather than by train or t(r)uck.” 

Hunter explained in the letter that he worked in the oil and gas industry and has represented the state’s oil and gas regulator as general counselor. He claimed that one of his important responsibilities as an attorney general is to protect economic activity in Oklahoma from “unlawful federal intrusion.”

This letter follows a similar letter sent on Tuesday by Austin Knudsen, Montana’s Attorney General, and thirteen other state attorneys general with similar requests. Tuesday’s letter told Biden that the Keystone Pipeline would help build back America after the COVID-19 pandemic and help unite the Nation, which Biden has said he hopes to accomplish. 

“As the chief legal officers of our states,” the letter began, “we write with alarm regarding your unilateral and rushed decision to revoke the 2019 Presidental Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Your decision will result in devastating damage to many of our states and local communities. Even those states outside the path of the Keystone XL pipeline–indeed all Americans–will suffer serious, detrimental consequences.” 

Canceling the permit for the pipeline was one of the first actions President Biden took during his first afternoon in office. His intent to halt the construction had been announced before he took office and the Canadian company working on the pipeline had already ceased construction in anticipation of the announcement. 

The attorneys general, however, argued that the “real-world costs” of this action will be very harmful, specifically through eliminating thousands of jobs, including union jobs, and would cause workers and families to suffer. They also discussed lost tax revenue and the loss of benefits from easements and leases which were meant to be used for schools and other public services. The attorneys general claimed that Biden did not consider the impact on states or consult them before making his decision. They also claimed that the pipeline would provide a way to transport oil that is safer for the environment than moving the oil on railways or highways.