Republican Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is leading a coalition of 14 other attorneys general who signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to reverse his decision to halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, citing that it is putting thousands of Americans out of work and threatening national security by making the United States more dependent on foreign sources.
President Donald Trump issued a presidential permit for the pipeline, which created thousands of direct jobs and even more indirect jobs and all contributing to local and state economies.
The letter, which noted that canceling the pipeline does nothing to address the climate change threats Biden said informed his decision but instead is “virtue signaling to special interests,” was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.
The letter said, in part:
The real-world costs are devastating. Nationally, your decision will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs, many of them union jobs. Your order hearkened back to the 2015 determination from the Obama Administration “that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited.” Thousands of displaced workers and their families surely disagree with that heartless assessment.
And it’s cold comfort to suggest to now-jobless Americans that by turning the page on projects like Keystone XL, workers can look forward to high-paying green energy jobs that don’t yet exist. It’s bad enough for the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, but much worse when the winners are aspirational. Aspirations don’t put food on the table, or pay the phone bill, or put kids through college. Jobs do, and you eliminated thousands of them with the stroke of a pen.
Your decision will result in devastating damage to many of our states and local communities. Even those states outside the path of the Keystone XL pipeline—indeed all Americans—will suffer serious, detrimental consequences. In Montana for instance, killing Keystone XL will likely cost the state approximately $58 million in annual tax revenue. Montana will lose the benefits of future easements and leases, and several local counties will lose their single-biggest property taxpayer. The loss of Keystone XL’s economic activity and tax revenues are especially devastating as five of the six impacted counties are designated high-poverty areas.
The pipeline states and their local communities will also suffer dramatically. In Montana for instance, killing Keystone XL will likely cost the state approximately $58 million in annual tax revenue. Montana will lose the benefits of future easements and leases, and several local counties will lose their single-biggest property taxpayer. The loss of Keystone XL’s economic activity and tax revenues are especially devastating as five of the six impacted counties are designated high-poverty areas. So your decision to shut down the project means less money for schools, less money for public services, and the elimination of business and job opportunities in those areas where they are most needed. Montana businesses, local governments, and utilities have also made substantial investments in preparation of servicing the pipeline. Those expenditures are now sunk with no hope of return, the prospects for increased economic activity have evaporated, and Montanans’ energy bills are likely to increase.
Yet it appears you never considered these impacts on Montana and other states and entities. The pipeline states have both made substantial investments in the project and have relied extensively on the expected revenues and economic opportunities Keystone XL brought and was bringing to countless Americans across the country. It is not too much to ask that the President give due consideration to the destructive consequences his decisions impose on our—and his—constituents. We are therefore deeply concerned that your unilateral approach, which failed to consider costs and reliance interests, sets a dangerous precedent for other permits and projects that affect all our states. But we were not consulted, and our states’ substantial interests were not considered.
The press release announcing the letter said:
The pipeline would run 285 miles through Montana crossing through six counties. Montana businesses, local governments, and utilities have made substantial investments in preparation for the pipeline, which are now rendered lost by Biden’s action. As a result, energy bills for some Montanans’ are likely to increase and schools and local governments in eastern Montana will lose out on much needed revenue.
The letter also emphasized that the Keystone XL is the safest way to transport oil from the Canadian province of its origin across the United States to refineries on the gulf coast. In fact, the oil will still be transported nonetheless but less safely by truck or rail.
Biden’s decision also threatens the country’s newfound energy independence and being a net exporter of oil and gas for the first time.
The letter concluded with words that promise to fight back if Biden refuses to rethink his Keystone decision.
“Please be aware that the states are reviewing available legal options to protect our residents and sovereign interests. In the meantime, we urge you to reconsider your decision to impose crippling economic injuries on states, communities, families, and workers across the country,” the letter said.
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