More than a dozen attorneys general from across the country sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday urging him to reconsider his January executive order which halted construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.
In an Inauguration Day executive order, one of dozens signed by Biden since he took office three weeks ago, the Democrat revoked the pipeline’s permit — killing thousands of jobs in the process.
In the order, Biden claimed the pipeline should not be completed, as the country “must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs.”
“[F]ollowing an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest,” the order also said.
Fourteen state attorneys general not only disagree with Biden’s decision to cancel the pipeline’s permit, but also challenged his rationale for doing so in a lengthy letter. The alliance of top state law enforcement officials, led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen, concluded that the cost of shutting down the project will be “devastating.”
“As the chief legal officers of our states, we write with alarm regarding your unilateral and rushed decision to revoke the 2019 Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline,” the letter said.
“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.”
Quoting Biden’s executive order, which claimed the pipeline “disserves the U.S. national interest,” the attorneys general rebutted that assertion by noting this conclusion was explained by a “vague” warning about the “climate crisis.
“Nowhere, however, do you explain how killing the Keystone XL pipeline project directly advances the goals of ‘protect[ing] Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts.’ Nor does your decision actually cure any of the climate ills you reference,” the letter continued.
The attorneys general then hit Biden hard, accusing him of using the project as a “symbolic act of virtue signaling to special interests and the international community.”
Again quoting from Biden’s own executive order, in which the president claimed the Keystone XL pipeline would have a “limited” impact on energy security and the economy, the AGs highlighted the human toll of the permit revocation.
“Thousands of displaced workers and their families surely disagree with that heartless assessment,” the letter said. “And it’s cold comfort to suggest to now-jobless Americans that by turning the page on projects like Keystone XL, workers can look forward to high-paying green energy jobs that don’t yet exist.”
Knudsen specifically laid out how, with the stroke of a pen, Biden will devastates areas of Montana, where Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has said he is against Biden’s decision to pull the rug out from under the project.
Knudsen noted Biden’s fiat over the pipeline will cost more than welding and other construction jobs.
“In Montana for instance, killing Keystone XL will likely cost the state approximately $58 million in annual tax revenue. Montana will lose the benefits of future easements and leases, and several local counties will lose their single-biggest property taxpayer,” Knudsen argued. “The loss of Keystone XL’s economic activity and tax revenues are especially devastating as five of the six impacted counties are designated high-poverty areas.”
“The pipeline states have both made substantial investments in the project and have relied extensively on the expected revenues and economic opportunities Keystone XL brought and was bringing to countless Americans across the country. It is not too much to ask that the President give due consideration to the destructive consequences his decisions impose on our — and his — constituents.”
The letter rightly pointed out that transporting crude oil via pipeline is the safest way to get it to refineries, which is something those who have supported Biden’s order have not reconciled. Without the pipeline, oil will simply be transported by truck or train. Both avenues are more vulnerable to accidents and human error.
Attorneys general from the following states joined Knudsen in signing the letter: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.
“Please be aware that the states are reviewing available legal options to protect our residents and sovereign interests. In the meantime, we urge you to reconsider your decision to impose crippling economic injuries on states, communities, families, and workers across the country,” the letter concluded.
“I encourage you to reconsider your decision to revoke the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and take into account the potential impacts of any further action to safety, jobs, and energy security,” Manchin wrote.
“Pipeline infrastructure projects already undergo a rigorous permitting process that allows experts to weigh-in on the security, safety, and environmental impacts of the project,” Manchin added. “I encourage you to let these processes proceed as intended and to not let politics drive the decisions on the development and operation of our nation’s vital energy infrastructure.”
Manchin’s letter came a week after Tester criticized the Biden order during an interview on CNN.
Biden’s administration has gotten off to a shaky start, as he has signed dozens of executive orders. None of them have been more unpopular than the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. That order has killed thousands of jobs and has now drawn rebukes from two Democratic senators, 14 attorneys general and labor unions.
The state AGs did not say in their letter which legal options they might be pursuing.
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