TOPEKA – (March 17, 2021) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to determine that President Biden’s cancellation of the permit to build and operate the Keystone XL pipeline was illegal.
Schmidt joined 21 states in filing the action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. In February, Schmidt had joined with attorneys general from 13 other states in sending a letter asking the president to reverse the cancellation.
The attorneys general said that the pipeline, once completed, would bring oil and natural gas to U.S. refineries from Canada and would maintain the hard-fought efforts by the United States to reduce demand for energy from the Middle East.
“This pipeline was years in the making,” Schmidt said. “If the government can unilaterally and without due process renege on its approval of this project, then no large capital investment requiring government approval is safe from having the regulatory rug pulled out from under it. No president has legal authority to disregard the plain language of the act of Congress that approved this project, and to do so without even the appearance of fairness through notice to affected parties and an opportunity to be heard is the very definition of ‘arbitrary and capricious’ government action that the law forbids.”
Congress in 2011 enacted law requiring President Obama to approve the permit to construct and operate the cross-border pipeline or formally explain within 60 days to Congress why he thought the pipeline disserved the national interest. President Obama did not grant the application but also did not explain why he was determining the project would not serve the national interest, and because the required explanation was not provided the Keystone XL permit was “in effect by operation of law.” Based on that default approval of the permit, construction of the pipeline began and was well underway when President Biden assumed office and canceled the permit by executive order.
The attorneys general said halting the pipeline threatens states and local communities that anticipated jobs and tax revenue related to the project and its ongoing operations. They said Biden’s “unilateral action” set a precedent creating risk for other permits and projects that affect all of their states.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at https://bit.ly/3eQU9v6.