Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, seen in 2019, filed a lawsuit against the Biden government’s suspension of new state oil and gas leases. A federal judge has ruled that leasing should be resumed. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Hide caption
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Biden government’s suspension of new land and water oil and gas leases was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana, who ordered that plans for delayed leases for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska be resumed become .
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty ruled on a lawsuit filed in March by Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and officials in 12 other states. Doughty’s ruling, granting these states an injunction, states that his order will apply nationwide.
The 13 states said the government has circumvented comment deadlines and other bureaucratic steps required before such delays can be made. Doughty heard arguments in the case in Lafayette last week.
The moratorium came after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on January 27 to combat climate change. The lawsuit was filed in March. States that opposed the suspension said it was carried out without the necessary comment deadlines and other bureaucratic steps.
Federal prosecutors also argued that the public notice and comment period does not apply to the suspension, that hire-purchase is not required by law, and that the interior minister has a wide margin of discretion in making rental decisions.
Although Landry and supporters of the lawsuit said the moratorium had already pushed prices up and put energy jobs at risk, Biden’s suspension did not prevent companies from drilling into existing leases.
“No existing lease agreement was terminated due to the measures being contested here, and development activities from exploration to drilling and production continued at a similar level to the previous four years,” argued attorneys for the administration in summary.
Long-term halt to oil and gas sales would slow future production and could hurt states like Louisiana, which are heavily dependent on the industries that contributed to global warming.
The lawsuit finds that coastal states generate significant revenues from onshore and offshore oil and gas activities. The termination of leases, the lawsuit argues, would reduce the revenues that fund Louisiana’s efforts to restore coastal wetlands, increase energy costs, and result in large job losses in oil-producing states.