A federal judge placed a permanent injunction against President Joe Biden‘s pause on federal oil and gas leasing in 13 states, following up on a temporary injunction placed on the Biden order last summer.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty ruled late Thursday that the federal government may not stop issuing leases on federal lands and waters in accordance with the pause Biden ordered during his first week in office. Doughty’s order said federal law requires the Interior Department to carry out lease sales, pointing to various statutes, including one requiring the department to hold sales “where eligible lands are available” and to do so “at least quarterly.”
Doughty had already put a preliminary injunction on the leasing pause last June. The Biden administration has since carried out one offshore lease sale and one series of onshore lease sales across various states pursuant to the preliminary injunction.
However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday vacated Doughty’s preliminary injunction. The ruling did not deal with the merits of the case but remanded the decision to Doughty’s court, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, for further proceedings on the grounds that he 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.
Unlike the preliminary injunction, which was effective in all states, the permanent injunction covers only the 13 states that filed the initial suit against Biden’s leasing pause.
The injunction coincides with new and specific directions from Congress, passed in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, for the Interior Department to carry out lease sales with regularity. The measures are a concession Biden and liberal Democrats made in order to win other priorities, especially funding for green energy and measures to mitigate climate change.