American Petroleum Institute Along with 11 Other Oil Industry Trade Groups Sue Biden Over Oil and Gas Leasing Pause

American Petroleum Institute Along with 11 Other Oil Industry Trade Groups Sue Biden Over Oil and Gas Leasing Pause

August 16, 2021

On Monday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) along with 11 other oil industry trade groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s indefinite pause on oil and natural gas leasing in federal lands and waters. The trade groups argue the Interior Department failed to satisfy procedural requirements and ignored congressional mandates for holding the lease sales.

The Washington Examiner reports:

“The law is clear: the department must hold lease sales and provide a justification for significant policy changes,” said Paul Afonso, API’s senior vice president and chief legal officer. “They have yet to meet these requirements in the eight months since instituting a federal leasing pause, which continues to create uncertainty for U.S. natural gas and oil producers.”

The groups, which filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, say the Mineral Leasing Act requires quarterly onshore lease sales, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act directs the government to pursue “expeditious” development of energy resources offshore.

As we previously reported on, Louisiana-based U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty already ruled against President Biden in June issuing an order that temporarily blocked the administration’s pause on new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters. The preliminary injunction from Judge Doughty followed lawsuits over the leasing pause in 13 states.

Louisiana and other Gulf states filed a motion last week to Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to compel compliance with his ruling that Biden’s leasing pause is illegal and must end.

But the Interior Department has not resumed lease sales.

The highly anticipated review by the Interior Department on the oil and gas leasing program, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland previously said was to be completely by “early summer.” In late July, Secretary Haaland testified in front of the Senate Energy Committee, where lawmakers on both sides voiced their frustrations on the status of Interior’s review on new oil and gas leases on public lands.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) said during the hearing, “While I’ve supported administration’s desire to pause lease sales to make sure the American people are getting fair returns for our shared resources, we are now well now into the early summer timeline when we were told the review would be completed,” he added, “We need a plan to move forward for responsible oil and gas leasing both onshore and offshore.”

Now, Interior is expected to release a report later this summer on whether it intends to make the indefinite pause on oil and gas leasing permanent or propose reforms for stricter regulations and raising costs on oil and gas development on public lands. The American people deserve the answers they were promised in early summer. We are now in the middle of August and still haven’t gotten those answers from the Biden administration. It is unacceptable, especially when people’s livelihoods and communities’ livelihoods are on the line.