North Dakota sues to end freeze on federal oil lease sales that costs state millions in lost revenue
Tuesday, January 10, 2023

North Dakota is suing the federal government over millions of dollars of royalties the state is losing because the Biden administration has frozen oil lease sales on federal lands.

The state is losing an estimated $9 million monthly from canceled quarterly oil and gas lease sales on federal land in North Dakota — a loss state officials estimate will exceed $1 billion over 10 years, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Bismarck.

North Dakota argues the federal petroleum lease sale moratorium that took effect from an executive order President Joe Biden signed Jan. 27, 2021, is “arbitrary and unlawful” and will “have and continue to cause irreparable harm to North Dakota,” the lawsuit filed on Jan. 5 said.

Oil and gas production are central to North Dakota’s economic health, responsible for 54% of the value of the state’s economy and creating about 66,000 well-paying jobs, according to the lawsuit filed by North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley.

Federal oil and gas leases generate about $167.4 million in royalties to the state every year, helping the state support public schools, highways, local governments and budget reserves.

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