The judge on Tuesday cleared the way for the resumption of oil and gas leases on US public lands, in a decision by the Biden administration to suspend new projects, undermining the country’s efforts to divert the president from fossil fuels.
A Louisiana court ruled in favor of 13 fossil fuel states, including Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma, in a preliminary ruling against White House pause for new leasesThe decision allows the leasing to be resumed while the court hears the further arguments of the case.
“The absence of any rational explanation for the cancellation of the lease or the termination of the lease leads to the judgment of this court that the plaintiffs also have a substantial probability of success on the basis of this claim,” said Judge Terry Doutin.
The verdict is: significant setback For Joe Biden, who ordered the suspension of new leases for the development of fossil fuels on public land and water in January, while the permit process was under way.
The suspension, which did not affect existing drilling permits, fulfilled the election promise ընտր marked the president’s most significant step against the energy sector he campaigned “Transition away from oil.”
The Interior Ministry said it would comply with Tuesday’s decision, but would continue to work on a review, which it said would “present further steps and recommendations.”
The board declined to comment on when the rental auctions could resume.
The suspension did not affect private-sector activity, which accounts for most of the US oil and gas production. Instead, it targeted the waters of specific federal states, which account for about 22 percent of US oil production.
But the judge found that the pause could cause significant damage to states where production depends on public lands. “Millions, possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” Dutin wrote. “The plaintiffs depend on the sale of offshore proceeds, land oil and gas leases.
The decision was welcomed by the oil industry. “The federal lease cut is detrimental to our nation’s national security, environmental progress, and economic recovery,” said Kevin O’Scanlan, vice president of countercurrent policy at the Big Petroleum Institute, a major lobbying group in Washington. “We are pleased to see a court ruling that natural gas and oil leasing should be resumed in federal waters and waters.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Industry Association, which represents offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, also welcomed the decision, which it said “simply confirms the legal requirements for the Department of Home Affairs’ oil and gas lease offshore planning.”
But Tuesday’s decision is unlikely to be the final word on the issue. The preliminary injunction will remain pending a final settlement or appeal to a higher court.
“Victory can be short-lived,” wrote Washington-based analyst ClearView Energy Partners. “Not only do we expect the Home Office to appeal the decision, but we also believe that the Biden administration may try to terminate the lease through other means.”
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