Montana’s attorney general is joining 20 other state attorneys general in suing to reverse Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to cancel a permit vital to building the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.
The 21 Republican attorneys general filed a complaint Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas claiming Biden overstepped his constitutional role when he withdrew a border crossing permit for the project over climate concerns.
Among those to sign onto the lawsuit were the attorneys general from Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Montana Attorney General Knudsen said in a press release that the power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce lies with Congress, not the president, and that Biden overstepped his constitutional role.
"There is not even a perceived environmental benefit to his actions – his attempt to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline is 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," Knudsen said.
Legal cases against Pres. Donald Trump used a similar legal argument against Pres. Donald Trump when he granted the pipeline a border-crossing permit in 2019 through a presidential permit.
In February, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and others addressed a letter to the president threatening legal action if he did not reconsider.
Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the permit fulfills a campaign promise. The withdrawal also fits into his administration’s goal of taking action against climate change, according to the executive order reversing the border crossing permit.
Opponents say the pipeline would harm the environment, hurt water quality by introducing the risk of spills and break tribal treaty rights. Proponents of the pipeline say it’ll provide jobs, tax dollars and an economic boost to the regions it crosses.
The Keystone XL pipeline extension would have met up with TC Energy’s existing pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Montana’s U.S. Senators and Representatives across the aisle have voiced their support of the pipeline.