Saturday, 25 March, 2023

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21 American states sue Biden over cancelled Keystone pipeline

Twenty-one American states have sued U.S president Joe Biden for cancelling the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in January.

As soon as he was sworn-in on January 20, Biden announced the project which was meant to move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Biden had described the project as a threat to the U.S environment and would negate plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions – climate change.

But this policy has now formally incurred the wrath of 21 Republican-governed states who have filed a suit at a Texas district court.

Led by the governors of Texas and Montana, the states have accused Biden of usurping the powers of states and also crippling the economically since the fiscal health of these states are built on fossil fuels.

Other states that jointly filed are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming,

They brought the suit to “prevent the Administration from circumventing limits placed on it by the Constitution, Administrative Procedure Act, and congressionally enacted national policy in this critical energy matter.”

Another key aspect of their argument reads thus:

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. The President lacks the power to enact his “ambitious plan” to reshape the economy in defiance of Congress’s unwillingness to do so. To the extent that Congress had delegated such authority, it would violate the non-delegation doctrine. But Congress has not delegated such authority: It set specific rules regarding what actions the President can take about Keystone XL and when. The President, together with various senior executive officials, violated those rules. The action should be set aside as inconsistent with the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 500, et seq.”

Part of case filed at a Texas district court challenging the stoppage of the Keystone XL pipeline

The Plaintiff States and their residents insisted they are participants in foreign and international commerce and therefore have quasi-sovereign interests in maintaining the constitutionally prescribed separation
of powers between Congress and the President as it relates to the regulation of foreign and interstate commerce.

“The Executive’s unilateral decision to revoke the Keystone XL permit is contrary to the constitutional structure to which the States agreed at the time of ratification. The Executive’s decision also encroaches upon the States’ abilities to steward and control the lands within their borders. Once fully constructed and operational, the Keystone XL would have provided tens of millions of property-tax dollars to the Plaintiff States and their local governments.”

Part of case filed at a Texas district court challenging the stoppage of the Keystone XL pipeline

The Biden administration is expected to put up a rigorous defence of the project cancellation.