Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Montana counterpart Austin Knudsen are leading a coalition of 21 state attorneys general in a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
What Happened: When Biden took office on Jan. 20, he fulfilled one of his campaign promises by signing an executive order canceling the March 2019 presidential permit for the pipeline signed by his predecessor, President Donald Trump.
The 1,700-mile pipeline was planned to carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil per day from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would join an existing pipeline traveling to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Construction had already begun on the pipeline, with a completion target in 2023.
The pipeline was initially proposed in 2008 and was approved by the Canadian government in 2010. But the Obama administration refused to grant a permit for the pipeline, questioning its economic viability and potential environmental liabilities. Trump approved the project, with the support of the Canadian government.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to the Biden decision with a statement that tersely rued, “We are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.”
What's Next: In announcing the lawsuit, Paxton stated actions were politically motivated and not based on economic or environmental concerns.
“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,” Paxton said. “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.”
Knudsen echoed Paxton’s concerns, adding that Biden’s action was “an empty virtue signal to his wealthy coastal elite donors. It shows Biden’s contempt for rural communities in Montana and other states along the pipeline’s path that would benefit from and support the project.”
The lawsuit said the permit cancellation will result in the loss of “42,100 jobs with $2 billion in associated earnings throughout the United States.” Paxton and Knudsen are joined in the lawsuit 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.
The pipeline is owned by Toronto-based TC Energy (NYSE:TRP) in partnership with the provisional government of Alberta. When the permit was revoked, TC Energy issued a statement saying it would “review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options.” Neither TC Energy nor the Biden administration issued a public comment on the lawsuit.
Photo: A portion of the unfinished Keystone XL pipeline. Courtesy of ShannonPatrick17 / Flickr Creative Commons.