14 states sue Biden administration over oil and gas leasing moratorium

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

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Fourteen states on Wednesday filed lawsuits against President Joe Biden’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public land and bodies of water.

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

“This moratorium could be a good headline to fight climate change, but the real consequences of the action are far from safe and far from uniformly environmentally friendly,” the Wyoming lawsuit said.

Biden’s Jan. 27 order to suspend the new lease was part of a series of executive measures to combat climate change and shift the economy from fossil fuel production to clean energy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry described Biden’s orders as “an aggressive, reckless abuse of the president’s power”.

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Biden also directed the Home Office secretary to begin a thorough review of existing fossil fuel development permits and ordered the federal government to maintain 30% of public land and water by 2030.

The lawsuits also come as the Biden government prepares to unveil its national infrastructure overhaul proposal, which is expected to include an ambitious series of climate-related proposals.

A pipe storage depot for Transcanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. located in Gascoyne, North Dakota on January 25, 2017.

Terray New Years Eve | Reuters

The Louisiana lawsuit argued that the president’s order would violate oil and gas well-dependent communities and drive energy prices up. The lawsuit also requested that the Bureau of Land Management resume quarterly sales of oil and gas leases.

The Home Office declined to comment on the complaints.

The moratorium on oil and gas leasing would not end fossil fuel extraction as the industry has undeveloped leasing contracts.

Wells in federal states contribute to around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the US and generate billions in revenue.

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