A federal judge put a halt to the Biden administration’s suspension of oil and gas leasings on federal land on Tuesday.
Judge Terry Doughty for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled to grant a preliminary injunction to Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and the 12 other lawmakers that filed a lawsuit in March. President Joe Biden instituted the moratorium on Jan. 27.
“This is a victory not only for the rule of law, but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans,” Landry said. “We appreciate that federal courts have recognized President Biden is completely outside his authority in his attempt to shut down oil and gas leases on federal lands. The President’s Executive Order abandons middle-class jobs, cripples our economy, and hits everyday Americans where it hurts the most — their pocketbooks. What’s more: it attacks Louisiana’s coast by reducing the revenue and royalties used for coastal restoration and hurricane protection.”
Biden’s January decision came amid a slew of climate change orders, such as the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Attorneys for Landry said in oral arguments that the White House does not have the power to exercise such authority on state lands.
Specifically, the attorney general’s team referred to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act as providing a rationale. Both say Congress should use American materials and rely on U.S. energy, and the lawyers argue the ban makes the nation reliant on foreign powers.
The lawsuit filed against the federal government outlines how Louisiana, principally, rakes in much of its revenue from gas-related activities. It also argues that suspending leasings will cut into statewide efforts to preserve wetlands. Alternatively, the Republicans say Biden’s move would increase energy prices and result in job loss — as has occurred with the pipeline cancellation.
Officials in the Interior Department indicated they will comply with the ruling, but they did not clarify when auctions for leasings will begin again. The American Petroleum Institute released a statement upon the ruling, demanding the White House “move expeditiously to follow the court’s order and lift the federal leasing pause.”
“Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” Doughty wrote in his ruling.
The other states listed as plaintiffs on the suit include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Wyoming has filed a separate suit opposing the suspension.