Story by Victor Ortiz Jr.
President Joseph Biden made his first move regarding the climate change crisis on Jan. 20 by eliminating the KXL presidential permit that allowed international pipeline construction and not all are thrilled; a lawsuit was filed in Texas on Mar. 17 on behalf of 21 states expressing that Biden didn’t have the legal authority to make the decision.
“The president has certain prerogatives to act on behalf of the U.S. in foreign affairs. But as far as domestic law is concerned, the president must work with and abide by the limits set by Congress,” the states mentioned in their dispute.
Decision authority on presidential permits regarding pipelines that cross internationally is complicated and has been modified several times since the late 1800s. The most notable modification was through an executive order in 1968 by former President Lyndon Johnson, where he gave the power to the secretary of state upon recommendations made by inter agencies within the government.
The same executive order mentioned that if there were any interagency disagreements that the president would be the final decision-making authority.
Former President Donald Trump, who originally approved the now voided KXL presidential permit, initiated an executive order in 2019 that modified the decision-making authority. The order gave final decision power exclusively to the president based upon recommendations made by the secretary of state.
Trump’s executive order revoked any previously written executive orders and modifications that gave the secretary of state power to approve presidential permits.
“Any decision to issue, deny, or amend a permit…shall be made solely by the President,” said Trump in his executive order.
Had it been constructed, the KXL would have allowed 1,200 miles of pipeline to internationally carry tar sands from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, NE., then connect to an already existing Keystone pipeline ending in Galveston, TX..
“Leaving the KXL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” said Biden in his executive order.
Biden nor members of his team have publicly commented on the lawsuit. Instead, Biden has been focused on climate change efforts involving slowly transitioning the U.S. to clean energy through infrastructure investment proposals, which would create jobs.
Concerns regarding the amount of jobs lost were mentioned in the complaint filed, however if Biden is able to get his infrastructure proposal approved, then it will create jobs for the American people.
Negotiations regarding the proposed $2.3 trillion package will begin this week in Washington.