On Tuesday, June 15, Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction ending the Biden Administration’s moratorium on lease sales for oil and gas production on federal lands and waters.
The ruling was part of a case brought by 12 states to challenge the leasing ban, which has been in place since President Biden took office.
In his order, Doughty criticized the Administration for failing to explain the pause when it was issued and not receiving public feedback in advance. Both actions are required by the Administrative Procedures Act.
Additionally, the judge said that two existing laws — the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act —require the Department of Interior to hold periodic lease sales of available land for oil and gas production, which the department has not done since the beginning of this Administration. Doughty wrote that under the law, lease sales are not discretionary. Doughty rejected the Administration’s argument that it’s complying with the law by merely “delaying” or “pausing” the lease sales but not cancelling them entirely.
The judge’s order directs the Department of Interior to resume sales, including planned future lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
This ruling is a repudiation of the Administration’s policies on fossil fuel development on federal lands. Interior is expected to publish a report on the program in the coming days and has released a statement indicating they are reviewing the ruling and plan to follow its direction.
The Council will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure the Department of Interior follows the law and makes public lands available for all kinds of energy development to provide our country with the energy it needs to thrive.
For more information about the Council’s advocacy efforts, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.
Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.