President Joe Biden’s directive to halt leasing of federal land to oil and gas companies in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico has been dealt a blow after U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Louisiana overturned the moratorium on Tuesday.
The decision is now a setback to the Biden administration’s efforts to cut emissions and promote environmentally safe practices. Although the moratorium was only meant to be a temporary halt to allow agencies to review the impact of the projects, the judge ruled that the decision would negatively affect the economy.
Related: Biden administration pauses oil drilling leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
In the lawsuit, filed in March by Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, it was argued that the decision would directly impact the income of oil field workers. The lawsuit was joined by 12 other states including Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The judge ruled that the same decision would be applied nationwide, granting a preliminary injunction to the moratorium issued by the government.
“The omission of any rational explanation in cancelling the lease sales, and in enacting the Pause, results in this Court ruling that the Plaintiff States also have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of this claim,” the judge wrote.
“We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and will comply with the decision,” Melissa Schwartz of the Interior Department said, as reported by Huffington Post. “The Interior Department continues to work on an interim report that will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.”
The 13 states against the pause on oil and gas leases said that the administration bypassed bureaucratic steps required before such a decision can be made. Further, they argued that the moratorium would result in financial losses to the states.
Biden administration lawyers argued, “No existing lease has been cancelled as a result of any of the actions challenged here, and development activity from exploration through drilling and production has continued at similar levels as the preceding four years.”
The arguments by administration lawyers could not convince the judge, leading to the reversal of the order.
Via Huffington Post
Image via Danielle Brigida, USFWS