More than 20 Republican state attorneys general have teamed up to oppose the energy agenda promoted by President Joe Biden.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss two lawsuits that he and other attorneys general have filed against the Biden administration in an effort to further American energy independence.
Carr explains that Biden’s executive actions stopping construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and limiting oil and gas drilling not only will have negative economic effects on individual Americans but adversely affect U.S. energy security.
We also cover these stories:
- The Supreme Court throws out a lawsuit over former President Donald Trump’s now-deleted Twitter account.
- Google wins a major Supreme Court case against the computer technology corporation Oracle.
- Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says President Biden should cut his $2 trillion “infrastructure” plan to $615 billion.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Virginia Allen: I am so pleased to be joined by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. Attorney General Carr, welcome to the show.
Chris Carr: Virginia, great to be with you. Thank you for having me on.
Allen: Oh, it’s a pleasure to have you here. All right, so let’s go back for a moment to March 17th. That’s the day that you filed a lawsuit with 20 other Republican attorneys general against President [Joe] Biden’s executive order that stopped the construction of the Keystone pipeline. So share with us why you chose to sign on and file this lawsuit.
Carr: Well, first of all, Virginia, because the president doesn’t have the power to overturn the permit that was granted by an act of Congress. So on the legal side of things, we firmly believe it was an unconstitutional act, and he needs to be prevented from pulling that permit.
But let’s look at this also: This was a symbolic move. Pulling Keystone’s permit was, just plain and simple, political symbolism with real-world implications.
When you look at the number of jobs that had relied on this permit, that were already in place, the amount of investment, when you look at the impact on increased costs for fuel and energy for families and for businesses, these types of actions—in addition to being unconstitutional—are going to impact folks all across this country.
I really commend my colleague [Attorney General] Austin Knudsen from Montana for really spearheading this issue and all my other colleagues, because this is an issue that’s going to impact everybody around the country.
Allen: And we know that, of course, the environmental groups are some of the loudest individuals on this issue, that they have been so opposed to the pipeline for a long time.
So we’re hearing that argument a lot in the news, but we’re also hearing the argument that the global price of oil has dropped so much that it makes sense for America to continue importing our oil because it’s cheaper. What’s your response to this argument?
Carr: My response is that energy security is national security. And one, we need to be focused on our own energy resources, but two, here we have a partner in Canada that’s been our partner in the Keystone pipeline. Great security partner, great trading partner. And we are undermining that relationship in and of itself.
But at the end of the day, we want to be able to continue to grow and cultivate and focus on our energy security. Because now, again, if this pipeline is not built, it’s not going to come to the U.S.. It’s going to go somewhere, and it’s most likely going to go to China or overseas.
But in addition, we’re going to have to then rely on sources like Venezuela and the Middle East and others for our energy needs. It doesn’t make sense.
And to your point—that environmental groups on the left, that this has been an issue for them—this political symbolism of pulling this permit is simply a political reward for those that supported the Biden-Harris campaign, plain and simple.
Allen: So really, at the end of the day, in other words, you’re saying that this is also political fanfare on the part of the Biden administration, that there’s not really a concrete reason for pulling this permit.
Carr: That’s right. And again, you look at it, it’s political in nature, but it’s going to have an economic impact. To the point about the cost of energy, it’s going to go up. Supply is going to go down. Demand is where it is. The price is going to go up. That’s simple economics. And so, it’s very, very frustrating.
And in addition, though, we keep going back and pointing this out, Congress in 2011 authorized this program and this project. In 2019, President [Donald] Trump issued the permit. These companies, these states, these workers, and many of which are union—so it seems like that is something that may cut against the president kind of going down the line.
It’s union jobs too, but it’s an estimated 42,000 jobs with $2 billion in associated earnings that, again, would be positively impacting folks in the United States. So it just doesn’t make a lot of sense legally or politically or from a policy perspective.
Allen: Wow. Well, and obviously, the pipeline won’t run or wouldn’t run through Georgia, but how does its cancellation even affect the people of your state?
Carr: Absolutely. Look, again, when you’re talking about supply and demand, you’re talking about a supply of energy from Canada, there’s a tremendous amount. It’s going to increase costs for Georgia families and for Georgia businesses. It’s going to impact everybody from agriculture to manufacturing. You name it.
This is an issue that is going to impact everyone, and particularly if it doesn’t just stop here. If today it’s Keystone and tomorrow it’s the next pipeline, whatever it is down the line, this could be an issue that impacts everybody.
But again, going back to the legality of it, the president has to follow the law as well. The president has to follow our constitutional provisions as well.
Congress authorized this. The president doesn’t have the authority to do that, so that impacts all of us and how we govern ourselves, whether we’re in Georgia or Montana or Nebraska or wherever it may be.
So this is an issue that impacts all of us, but it is going to be felt economically both at the dinner table and across the industry down the line.
Allen: Regarding the lawsuit that you filed with 20 other attorneys general, what do you think is next for that lawsuit, and how quickly do you think we’ll be able to learn what’s next for the pipeline?
Carr: Well, it’s going to work its way through the system, sometimes it takes a little while. But again, I commend my colleague, Austin Knudsen. His office and our colleagues, we’re going to continue to push forward, because again, American companies, American jobs are on the line.
Folks have relied on this permit. Money has been invested. Time has been invested. The states have invested time and resources as well. There was a reliance on this. So with every day that goes by, more American jobs are being harmed. And so with that in mind, I hope this goes as quickly as possible.
Allen: Let’s take a minute to talk about another lawsuit that you filed with 12 other state attorneys general to block the Biden administration’s violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act.
So before we get into the details of the lawsuit, could you first just explain what the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act are?
Carr: Yeah. So whether or not you can drill offshore or whether you can drill onshore, that’s basically the way to understand those two pieces of legislation.
And again, the bottom line, it goes right back to what we were just talking about. Energy security is national security. And to limit and prohibit our ability to tap into, safely, I would mind remind everybody, safely and in an environmentally responsible way, it matters. We need to be able to tap into those resources, and we can do it.
And the left is saying that this is intended to protect the environment, but the way we see it is it’s likely one of the single largest divestments of revenue for environmental protection in American history because of the revenues that come off of those leases.
So, again, once again we have just said that the president has overextended himself and gone beyond what he should be able to do, and we are asking the court to halt that moratorium on oil and gas leasing and drilling permits.
Allen: And talk a little bit about that larger long-term economic impact on America if this drilling is not able to continue.
Carr: Well, again, it goes back … We have done an outstanding job during the Trump years to really focus on a way to safely and securely ensure that we are secure from an energy perspective.
We’ve shown that we can utilize these resources, as far as offshore drilling and onshore drilling on government property, in order to benefit American families and American industry.
If you are going to continue, if the administration and others are going to continue to hinder that and limit it, it only drives up the costs for American families. And it also encourages us and it forces us to go rely on, again, the Middle East or Venezuela and other overseas countries and locations that we’re going to have to rely on for our energy needs, and that doesn’t make sense.
Again, going back to Keystone here, we’ve got a great trading partner in Canada. Why would we not rely on and continue to work with a great trading partner and a security partner like Canada?
Here we’ve got an opportunity with offshore drilling, and on government lands as well. We know we can do it. We know it can be done safely. We know it can be done in an environmentally responsible way.
Why would we not continue to do that? That is good for the nation. It is good for individual families. It’s good for states. It’s good for American industry.
Allen: And on that note of the environmental side of things, we hear this argument, as we’ve talked about, of environmental groups saying it’s not good for the environment.
But when you consider the safeguards that America has in place compared to other countries like China, Venezuela, how can we really say, “Wait a second, actually, we are taking much more precautions and doing a better job of stewarding our planet, taking care of the environment”?
And really because of that, it would be more beneficial for America to be taking the lead on this, instead of leaving it to other countries who aren’t going to take as much care in really protecting their environment.
Carr: Well, Virginia, you’ve just explained it probably better than I could, but that’s exactly right. We know that the technology is there.
Again, when was the last time that you heard of a major pipeline issue? The technology is there to make sure that there is double and triple backstops and protection in order to make sure that this is done safely and securely.
I would argue also, again, this is a philosophical difference, and I think it’s important to get the word out, but I do think the private sector has an extra incentive to do it the right way.
And whether it’s clean air, clean water, whatever we’re talking about, we all have to breathe that same air and drink that same water. We believe in, as conservatives, taking care of the environment. But the question is, who’s going to do it?
I don’t want to defer simply and solely to the federal government, because I think the state of Georgia does a pretty good job of protecting our natural resources.
I know companies can’t afford to have spills and disasters that occur that could impact their ability to do business and hire people to make things. So I firmly and fundamentally believe that the private sector has incentives to do this, and I also believe that the technology that we have in the U.S., to your point, is second to none.
We continue to innovate, we continue to be strong, and we have this incentive. But the question is, do you believe the government’s in a better position to do it, or do you believe that the private sector or even the states [are]? There’s a federalism argument here. Do you think it’s the federal government? Do you think your own state and local communities can do it?
And again, I trust the people of our state and the people that are involved in these issues from a private sector perspective. I think we’ve got good safeguards in place and … I put the U.S. up against anybody.
Allen: Considering what we’ve seen already from President Biden regarding his environmental and energy priorities, what do you think we can expect to see over these next four years?
Carr: More of it. There’s no doubt about it. And I think you’re going to see it particularly as you look at—we’re in a situation now that you have the White House, the Congress, and the Senate are in Democratic hands.
And I think you see the stronger and stronger pull all the time from those on the far left that are going to continue to push President Biden and his handlers to go farther and farther to the left.
So I think you’re just going to continue to see more and more. And I think, Virginia, that’s the reason I believe that my Republican attorneys general colleagues and I play such an important role. We’re big believers in federalism, and we know that the federal government’s got its role, state governments have [their] role, and it’s up to us to push back.
And if Congress and the Senate are all going to be in one political party’s hands and the White House is as well, there’s got to be a pushback from somewhere, and that’s coming from the states.
And we as the chief legal officers and chief law enforcement officers of our states are uniquely positioned to push back, to make sure that that tension based on the principles of federalism is there.
So I think you’re just going to continue to see more and more. And you saw folks on the other side during the Trump years, our Democratic colleagues filed lawsuits all the time, and that was largely based on personality.
We believe in the rule of law. We believe in the principles of federalism. You’re going to see the lawsuits that we bring based on those principles.
And I believe we’re going to be more strategic based on the law and on what we bring, but I think we’re going to be very effective as well, because the president said he wanted to be bipartisan, he wanted to work with Congress, and yet you see more and more use of executive orders.
You’ve seen more use of executive orders under this administration than any other in modern history. So we’ve got to push back, and we’re uniquely positioned to do that.
Allen: And why do you think that is? Why do you think that there is this sort of, almost seems like newfound boldness to be willing to use that executive power a little bit more forcefully than we’ve seen in the past?
Carr: Well, I spent a little bit of time in the Senate. I worked for one of Georgia’s senators, Johnny Isakson, who’s a great public servant. So I’ve had a chance to be able to see this.
And again, when the administration is of one party and the Congress and the Senate are of that same party, so often Congress defers to the executive branch. And I’ve never really completely understood that, because the legislative branch is supposed to be the first among equals and the representatives of the people.
But I see that more and more, and I think the world that we’re in right now is so polarized that you’re seeing a tremendous amount of pressure to go farther and farther. And again, when all of Washington is in one party’s hands, right now the Democratic hands, you’re going to just see that tension to go farther and farther.
I think it’s just kind of political physics, and that’s what you’re seeing. And I also think that oftentimes, there were folks that maybe they, on the left, that voted against Donald Trump. They didn’t necessarily vote for Joe Biden. And when they look up, they said, “Wait a minute. I’m not necessarily for him. I’m for something farther to the left.” They were for Bernie Sanders or they were for someone else.
So you’re seeing that pull farther and farther to the left, which is where it’s important for us as Republican AGs, as state Republican AGs, to provide that backstop, to provide those guard rails, and make sure that, again, the federal government doesn’t overstep its bounds, because I think there is a tremendous temptation now in Washington to federalize everything.
I mean, you’ve seen it. They want to do it with elections, with HR 1. They tried to do it in the COVID bill to prohibit our ability to provide tax cuts and tax treatment for our state’s increased deductions or credits just in the recent bill. You see it in our right to defend ourselves. You’ve seen it with health care. There’s going to be a tremendous temptation to federalize everything at this point, and that’s not right.
Allen: Attorney General Carr, thank you so much for your time. We just really appreciate you breaking down these issues for us and your leadership there in Georgia.
Carr: Well, Virginia, thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.