A federal judge in Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit Court has blocked President Biden’s ability to “unilaterally pause” oil and gas leases in thirteen states on Thursday. Just one day prior, the Biden Administration was lauding a decision by an appellate court lifted the same judge’s national injunction.
Judge Terry Doughty, U.S. District Jurist, ruled that “the Interior Department had violated federal laws when it effectively canceled both onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands.” The judgement comes in response to an executive order that President Joe Biden signed just days after taking office in January 2022.
The executive order had instructed the Department of the Interior to “pause those activities” until a review could be carried out.
According to Reuters, the Inflation Reduction Act actually mandates oil and gas leases on federal lands. Joe Biden signed this massive climate bill on Tuesday after returning from a vacation in South Carolina.
Only Congress is able to stop oil and gas leases, said Doughty. Further, the government is required to offer sales of oil and gas under the Mineral Leasing Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Act.
Doughty said that the Department of the Interior’s secretary, Deb Haaland, “put the cart before the horse.” Doughty said the comprehensive review of the oil and gas sales could have taken place while sales of leases continued.
The oil and gas industry has blamed President Biden for making the process of getting leases long, hard, and financially painful. President Biden has even gone as far as to take oil from the Strategic Reserve or ask Saudi Arabia and OPEC for more oil rather than allowing for drilling here in the United States.
In 2019, the United States was energy independent. Gas prices were just over $2 when President Biden took office.
The plaintiffs in the case brought before Judge Doughty include Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Utah, West Virginia, Missouri and Montana. These states either have oil within their borders or they are home to oil refining companies, both of which have been adversely affected by the Biden permitting regulations.
The ruling does not apply to other states. However, the original ruling from Judge Doughty included all fifty states, and Doughty placed an injunction on the June 2021 pause of leases nationwide.
In November 2021, a DC federal judge put a halt to bids for a Gulf auction, citing a violation of environmental review laws. In late 2021, the Department of the Interior canceled a sale in Alaska due to “lack of industry interest.”
On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Federal Court had thrown out Doughty’s original ruling due to a “lack of specificity” and an inadequate definition of the action being limited.
Montana General Austin Knudsen released a statement after the ruling on Thursday: “President Biden’s executive order to choke off energy development didn’t just increae prices and hurt American families.”
As of Friday, there was no comment offered to Reuters by the Department of the Interior.