Federal judge dismisses GOP-led challenges to Biden’s pipeline cancellation

Among President Joe Biden’s first actions in office was to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit.

Now, a federal judge has tossed out a GOP-backed lawsuit challenging the White House’s move.

“Undercutting the credibility and influence”

In an executive order on Jan. 20, then recently inaugurated president issued an executive order explaining his motivation for revoking the permit.

Citing an Obama-era determination that “approving the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest,” the White House went on to describe “the development of a clean energy economy” as a better path toward a strong economy.

“The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action,” Biden wrote.

Roughly half of the nation’s states responded to the executive order with lawsuits. The effort was spearheaded by Republican Attorneys General Austin Knudsen of Montana and Ken Paxton of Texas.

They argued that the president does not have the power to cancel the pipeline and that such authority lies in the legislative branch.

“The case must be dismissed as moot”

As the legal challenges have played out in court, the pipeline’s developer has abandoned the project.

In a statement, TC Energy indicated that it would shift its focus to other projects that would “meet the evolving energy demand today and in the future.”

Because the company has abandoned the project, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Brown determined that the lawsuit should be dismissed.

“The court takes TC Energy at its word that Keystone XL is dead,” he concluded. “And because it is dead, any ruling this court makes on whether President Biden had the authority to revoke the permit would be advisory. Thus, the court has no jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed as moot.”

Brown made it clear in his ruling that he did not toss the lawsuit because the Biden administration proved its case, but rather that the underlying dispute is no longer relevant. Nevertheless, the net effect is that the president has scored a win in his effort to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline project.

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