Judge dismisses lawsuit against Biden revocation of Keystone XL permit as ‘moot’

On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he revoked via executive order the presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline cross-border extension between Canada and the United States, a move that prompted a lawsuit from 23 Republican-led states that challenged his authority to do so.

Now a federal judge has dismissed that lawsuit as “moot” since the Canadian company constructing the pipeline has officially declared the project as “dead,” The Hill reports.

Because of that mootness, the judge declined to delve into or issue any opinion on the pertinent constitutional questions about presidential authority raised in the GOP states’ lawsuit.

The cancellation

The Daily Signal reported that a few months after Biden had revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline cross-border extension — which had already finished construction — to the larger already-existing Keystone pipeline system, Canadian company TC Energy announced that it was completely abandoning the project in June.

But given all of the anticipated thousands of new jobs, millions in tax receipts, billions in general revenue, and hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day at stake, the states had persisted in challenging Biden’s authority to cancel the necessary permit of approval.

At the same time, the Biden administration requested that the lawsuit be dismissed because, due to TC Energy formally abandoning the project, there was no longer a “case” or “controversy” upon which the courts could act.

“Must be dismissed as moot”

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, agreed with the Biden administration and, in an 18-page ruling, dismissed the state-led lawsuit as “moot” and no longer within the federal court’s jurisdiction to act.

Judge Brown summarized the controversy from when TC Energy first applied for a permit in 2008, was approved by Congress in 2011, and then was given the run-around and ultimate rejection in 2015 by the Obama administration, only to be resurrected and approved under the Trump administration before being rejected again by Biden, which compelled the company to simply throw in the towel.

And despite the persistence of the GOP states in attempting to resurrect the lucrative project once more, the judge wrote, “The court takes TC Energy at its word that Keystone XL is dead.”

“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 added.

“Unfortunate” ruling

The lawsuit had been led by Texas and Montana, and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) said in a statement:

“Recent events have made it clear that we need more, not less, domestic energy supply. The Keystone XL or a similar pipeline could have provided that. Instead, Montanans are once again paying the price for President Biden’s disastrous energy policies that pander to his coastal elite base without even a perceived environmental benefit.”

“It’s unfortunate that the important constitutional question in this case — if the president can revoke a congressionally approved cross-border permit — will go unanswered because TC Energy inserted itself into the court proceedings unprompted. This also deprived Montanans and residents of other states who would have benefited from the pipeline’s jobs and tax revenue of their day in court,” he added.

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