A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled Tuesday that the Biden administration does not have the constitutional right to temporarily pause issuing new oil and natural gas leases for offshore and public lands. For now, the federal court has blocked Biden’s executive order issued on January 27.
The lawsuit challenges Executive Order 14008. In the order, the Biden administration declared that the Secretary of the Interior “shall pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review … including potential climate and other impacts.” Thirteen states sued the Biden administration, including Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The court determined that Biden likely exceeded his authority by ordering the pause, and the administration may be required to follow a schedule of lease sales set by the Obama administration. The states argued they would lose out on payments such as royalties if the sales are not held. The decision by the court is a temporary order while the lawsuit is ongoing. However, the Interior Department must comply with the injunction in the meantime.
JURIST reported earlier this month that the administration was planning to suspend oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, undoing a move made by the Trump administration late last year. The 19.3 million-acre refuge includes nearly 1.6 million acres of coastal plains, which are both a sensitive environmental area and highly prospective for oil and gas resources.