Judge permanently blocks Biden’s oil and gas lease break in 13 states

August 20, 2022

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A federal judge on Thursday issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

The injunction applies to the 13 states that sued the Biden administration for the moratorium in March 2021, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana , Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Terry Doughty, the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, ruled the White House went too far with the ban.

President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14008 on January 27, 2021, prohibiting all new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and offshore waters. The order did not cancel existing leases on federal lands and offshore waters. Leases on private land were also not affected.

Thirteen Louisiana-led states have sued the Biden administration, saying the lease ban violates the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which governs offshore oil and gas leases, and the Mining Leasing Act. (MLA), which governs land leases on land on federal lands.

Doughty issued a temporary injunction in June 2022 in this case. The injunction was overturned Wednesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Doughty’s permanent injunction came a day after the circuit court’s decision (pdf).

Tugboats tow the Noble Danny Adkins semi-submersible drilling rig through the Port Aransas Channel in the Gulf of Mexico in Port Aransas, Texas on Dec. 12, 2020. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

In the permanent injunction, Doughty ruled that the executive branch had no power to change the two laws.

“Both statutes require defendant government agencies to sell oil and gas leases. OCSLA has a five-year plan in place that requires qualifying leases to be sold. Defendants’ government agencies do not have the authority to make significant revisions to the OCSLA’s five-year plan without going through congressional-mandated process. The MLA requires the DOI to conduct lease sales, where eligible land is available at least quarterly,” he wrote in the decision (pdf). “By stopping the process, the agencies are effectively changing two laws of Congress. Neither the OCSLA nor the MLA gives the government defendants’ agencies the authority to implement a halt to lease sales.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Interior Department and the White House for comment.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen applauded the permanent injunction.

“President Biden’s executive order to stifle energy development not only raised prices and hurt American families, it was downright illegal. This decision is a victory for the rule of law and for workers and rural communities who depend on the energy industry,” he said in a statement. statement.

An ongoing moratorium on leases would have cut employment by 210 jobs, cut personal income by $13 million and cost Montana $4 million in oil and gas taxes in 2021, he said. said citing a December 2020 study conducted by the University of Wyoming.

Biggest offshore oil and gas lease sale revived

Days before the permanent injunction, a lease known as Lease Sale 257, which is also being challenged in the multi-state lawsuit, was revived by Biden through the so-called Tax Reduction Act. inflation.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes provisions that guide spending, tax credits and loans to boost technologies such as solar panels and equipment to reduce pollution at coal and gas-fired power plants .

But the legislation also contains a provision that reinstates the previously halted Lease 257 sale, which was auctioned off for $192 million in March 2019, the largest offshore oil and gas lease in U.S. history, spanning nearly 81 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) indicated its intention to cancel the lease sale in February 2021, citing Executive Order 14008. The lease sale was later revived by the government. However, he was later challenged by environmental activist groups and arrested by Judge Rudolph Contreras of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Contreras ruled in January that the decision to proceed with the sale of the lease was “arbitrary and capricious”.

The decision effectively blocked the 257 lease sale because the Biden administration did not appeal.

Tom Ozimek contributed to the report.

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