Judge permanently blocks Biden leasing pause in states that sued
Thursday, August 18, 2022

A Louisiana judge issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands Thursday night, a day after another court tossed an earlier injunction against it. 

In the Thursday ruling, Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana permanently blocked the January 2021 order in 13 states that sued over the order in March of that year. The states in question are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. It does not apply to any states uninvolved in the lawsuit. 

Doughty ruled the order was in violation of the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), saying it took steps reserved for Congress. 

“Both statutes require Government Defendants’ agencies to sell oil and gas leases. The OCSLA has a Five-Year Plan in effect that requires eligible leases to be sold. Government Defendants’ agencies have no authority to make significant revisions in the OCSLA Five-Year Plan without going through the procedure mandated by Congress,” Doughty, a Trump appointee, wrote.  

“The MLA requires the DOI [Interior Department] to hold lease sales, where eligible lands are available at lease quarterly. By stopping the process, the agencies are in effect amending two Congressional statutes. Neither the OCSLA nor the MLA gives the Government Defendants’ agencies the authority to implement a Stop of lease sales,” he added. 

On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed an earlier injunction by Doughty, sending it back to the Western District of Louisiana to clarify the injunction.

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