States, Chamber back Keystone lawsuit against Obama

States, Chamber back Keystone lawsuit against Obama
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several states this week filed supporting briefs in a lawsuit over President Obama’s November rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

TransCanada sued the Obama administration in January over the president's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. In a filing in the U.S. District Court in Houston, the Chamber joined the suit, arguing Obama overstepped his bounds in rejecting Keystone. 

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The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” and Congress has frequently voted in favor of the pipeline, the Chamber wrote.

Obama had the power to deny Keystone because it crosses a foreign border. But the Chamber argued his decision gave the White House too much power over foreign commerce. 

“The government’s approach not only violates the Constitution’s separation of powers, but also would create severe uncertainty over trade policy, destabilizing the American economy and hurting American businesses,” the Chamber wrote in its brief.

The states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas — made similar arguments, telling the court in a Monday filing that Obama “seeks to prohibit a means of interstate and international commerce desired by both the states and by Congress because, in his view, overriding the states and Congress is necessary to preserve his stature on the world stage and his bargaining position in ongoing or future multinational negotiations.”

Officials for the states — through which Keystone would run — argued the pipeline’s denial would hurt employment opportunities there. They asked the court to decide “that the executive lacks the authority to prohibit construction of the pipeline because that authority lies exclusively with Congress and Congress has not delegated that power to the president.”

TransCanada sued the Obama administration in January, arguing he exceeded his authority when he rejected the Keystone project. 

The company also filed an international petition under the North American Free Trade Agreement seeking $15 billion in costs and damages related to the pipeline.