State Sues Biden Over Lease Ban
Friday, July 9, 2021

The state of North Dakota is suing the Biden administration, including the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, over BLM's cancellation of scheduled auctions of oil and gas leases of public mineral rights in the state.

“I have taken this action to protect North Dakota’s economy, the jobs of our hard-working citizens, and North Dakota’s right to control its own natural resources,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

The lawsuit would appear to have a good chance of success based on a previous ruling in Louisiana. In that case, Federal Judge Terry Doughty said states had met the requirement to establish that they would suffer injury from the pause on new oil and gas leases. 

Biden halted the government's leasing auctions after taking office in January pending a review, the completion date of which is uncertain. The move was part of a controversial plan by Biden to limit fossil-fuel extraction to combat the effects of "climate change." The judge's order granted a preliminary injunction to Louisiana and 12 other states that sued Biden over the freeze on new drilling auctions.

Stenehjem's lawsuit alleges that BLM arbitrarily canceled the March and June lease auctions and shows every sign of continuing to violate its statutory duties. Due to North Dakota’s unique “split estate” land and mineral rights structure, the litigation says BLM’s "illegal actions" have disrupted the state’s programs for efficiently managing its resources and are blocking the development of significant state and private mineral interests. It says that the cancellation of the auctions will cost the state more than $80 million in lost revenues, a number that could grow into billions unless BLM’s cancellations are stopped.

“I welcome and support the Louisiana federal district court’s decision,” Stenehjem said. “And I look forward to defending North Dakota’s vital interests in its natural resources and continuing to put the pressure on the federal government to do the right thing for our state.”

Click here for the article and link to the state's lawsuit.