March 3, 2024
The Biden administration acted legally in postponing oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming in 2021, in a blow to the oil industry, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The Biden administration acted legally in postponing oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming in 2021, in a blow to the oil industry, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Judge Scott Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, an Obama appointee, ruled that the groups lacked standing to sue to stop Biden from postponing oil and gas lease sales for the second quarter of that year. For postponed sales in the first quarter, the Bureau of Land Management followed the relevant laws governing sales, and “the postponements were not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion” — meaning the agencies acted legally.

JUDGE ISSUES NEW PERMANENT INJUNCTION ON BIDEN OIL AND GAS LEASING PAUSE

The state of Wyoming and the Western Energy Alliance and Petroleum Association of Wyoming had sued in early 2021 to stop Biden’s oil and gas leasing pause in Wyoming.

The ruling stands in contrast to a decision last week by a federal judge in Louisiana to place a hold on the administration’s pause on sales in 13 other states.

In the other case, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump nominee, ruled that the Biden administration ran afoul of the Mineral Leasing Act by not carrying out regular lease sales. Doughty had already put a preliminary injunction on the leasing pause in June 2021. However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the preliminary injunction last month because Doughty did not define the word “pause” when enjoining the government from pausing leasing. The new injunction uses different language, enjoining the government from “implementing a stop” on new leasing.

During his candidacy for the presidency, Biden pledged to end oil and gas leasing on federal lands if he won, a promise he has been unable to keep so far.

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Congress enacted new and specific directions in the Inflation Reduction Act passed last month for the Interior Department to carry out lease sales with regularity. The measures are a concession Biden and liberal Democrats made to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to pass the measure.

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