(UnitedVoice.com) – Presidential overreach is nothing new. It’s part of the American tradition and is an issue of contention that goes as far back as our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Over the last two centuries, the courts have been thrust into the middle of the debate about how far is too far. After all, it’s their job to check and balance the other two branches of government. Once again, they are being asked to consider if a president overreached and abused his authority.
On day one of his presidency, Joe Biden revoked former President Donald Trump’s permit authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline to be completed. The pipeline’s story is legendary. Believe it or not, at one time, it enjoyed widespread bipartisan agreement, and the US State Department greenlighted the project in 2011. In the wake of the president’s action, 21 state attorneys general, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton and Montana AG Austin Knudsen, say the executive order violates the US Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). They sued the administration in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, claiming Biden’s executive order was unconstitutional, unlawful, and was without “legal effect.”
The Pipeline Was Almost Completed
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast oil spill tragedy in 2010, Congress was anxious to find better, safer ways to extract and transport oil. Canada’s Alberta oil sand fields are one of the richest in the world, and the US enjoys much of the benefit of that oil.
However, safe transport to US refineries is required. The Keystone XL pipeline would extend from the oil sand fields in Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, where connecting pipelines have already been completed to feed oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The oil industry claims it’s the safest and most efficient way to move oil. It doesn’t require massive numbers of trucks, railroads, or ships to move the oil.
How Could Biden’s Action Violate the Constitution?
As promised, Biden’s first step in attacking the energy industry was to cancel the permit, claiming the Keystone XL pipeline would worsen climate change. However, the claim doesn’t hold up, considering the amount of oil required to drive the trucks or move the trains loaded with crude oil. For Biden and the left, it’s not about the safety and efficiency of meeting America’s energy needs. It’s about transforming it into California’s energy model. There, in 2020, energy production hit all-time lows and California’s citizens experienced severe blackouts in the summer months.
Billions of dollars are up for grabs in 21 states, and Biden’s executive action unilaterally cost tens of thousands of jobs or perhaps long-term even a million.
The 21 attorneys general argue that Biden overrode a 2011 law authorizing pipeline construction that former President Obama didn’t contest. In effect, they claim the president violated Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 (known as the Commerce Clause) of the US Constitution by regulating international and interstate commerce. The Constitution does not give the president that power. Congress alone reserves that power. The AGs argue that Biden cannot essentially veto a 2011 law that the sitting president at the time did not override.
In addition, the lawsuit also alleges that the Biden administration violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). It argues the executive order was “arbitrary-and-capricious.”
Stay tuned. This litigation is an evolving and consequential Constitutional case.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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