14 states sue Biden administration over oil and gas lease moratorium


Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks during a press conference in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, Monday, September 9, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | fake images

Fourteen states filed a lawsuit Wednesday against President Joe Biden’s moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters.

A 13-state coalition, led by Louisiana, filed a lawsuit Wednesday. Wyoming filed a separate lawsuit. The states in the Louisiana lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. All 14 states have Republican attorneys general.

“This moratorium might be a good headline on fighting climate change, but the actual consequences of the action are far from certain and far from uniformly environmentally friendly,” the Wyoming lawsuit said.

Biden’s January 27 order to pause new leases was part of a series of executive actions to address climate change and transition the economy from fossil fuel production to clean energy.

In a statement Wednesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry called Biden’s order an “aggressive and reckless abuse of presidential power.”

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Biden also directed the Secretary of the Interior Department to begin a comprehensive review of existing permits for fossil fuel development and ordered the federal government to conserve 30% of public lands and water by 2030.

The lawsuits also come as the Biden administration prepares to unveil its proposal to overhaul the country’s infrastructure, which is expected to include an ambitious set of climate-related proposals.

A reservoir used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, on January 25, 2017.

Terray Sylvester | Reuters

The Louisiana lawsuit argued that the president’s executive order would harm communities that depend on oil and gas drilling and raise energy prices. The lawsuit also requested that the Bureau of Land Management be allowed to restart quarterly oil and gas lease sales.

The Department of the Interior declined to comment on the lawsuits.

The oil and gas lease moratorium would not end fossil fuel extraction, as the industry still has undeveloped leases.

Drilling on federal land contributes to about a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions and generates billions of dollars in revenue.

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