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Fourteen States Sue to Overturn Biden Administration’s Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Moratorium

Attorneys General (AG) representing 14 states sued the Biden administration over its decision to pause the issuance of new leases for oil and gas production on federal lands and waters.

Louisiana AG Jeff Landry is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 13 states’ AGs on March 24 in the United States District Court for the western district of Louisiana, spearheaded by Louisiana.

The other states represented in this lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

The lawsuit asks the court to throw overturn President Joe Biden’s executive order (EO) placing a moratorium on new oil leases on federal lands and on the U.S. outer continental shelf. The states argue the moratorium unlawfully failed to comply with notice and comment requirements in federal laws and regulations and that its issuance was arbitrary and capricious.

“The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and Mineral Leasing Act set out specific statutory duties requiring executive agencies to further the expeditious and safe development of the abundant energy,” says the lawsuit.

“[T]he Biden Ban … [is] an aggressive, reckless abuse of Presidential power that threatens American families’ livelihoods and our national interests,” said Landry in a statement. “By executive fiat, Joe Biden and his administration have single-handedly driven the price of energy up—costing the American people where it hurts most, in their pocketbooks.

“Biden’s Executive Orders abandon middle-class jobs at a time when America needs them most and put our energy security in the hands of foreign countries, many of whom despise America’s greatness,” Landry said.

Wyoming Fights Leasing Ban

A separate lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands was filed by Wyoming AG Bridgett Hill in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming, also on March 24.

Wyoming argues Biden’s EO violates the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act, 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, in part by denying the public and the state government “an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.”

Biden’s EO is an example of the president ignoring both the spirit and the letter of federal law on oil and gas leasing, said Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon in a press statement.

“Following a careful review of not only the President’s Executive Order, but its practical effect, it is necessary for Wyoming to protect its citizens and challenge [Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s] action,” Gordon said in a statement. “Not only is this federal action overreaching, it was implemented without public input as required under federal law.”

‘Biden’s War on American Energy Workers’

Biden’s action shows his disdain for American energy supremacy and domestic energy workers, said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in a statement.

“Wyoming is fighting back against President Biden’s war on American energy workers. Governor Gordon is taking action to combat the Biden administration’s illegal ban on oil and gas lease sales on federal land,” Barrasso said in his statement. “As Secretary Haaland admitted, this executive order will do nothing to stop global oil and gas production.

“It will just force the United States to import more energy from other countries,” said Barrasso. “The people of Wyoming were never consulted before this executive order was signed. Now, the administration will hear our arguments in court.”

The states’ lawsuits follow a private sector legal challenge filed against Biden’s moratorium in mid-March by the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and Western Energy Alliance.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hsburnett@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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