Biden Is Still Trying To Ban Federal Oil, Gas Leasing

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The Biden administration asked a federal court this week to uphold its ban on new federal oil and gas leasing, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) court filings.

The administration argued the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana should toss an April 29 motion from more than a dozen states asking the presiding judge to permanently nix the leasing ban, according to the Monday filings. The Louisiana court placed an injunction on the ban in June 2021, forcing the federal government to hold oil and gas lease sales until a final ruling was issued in the case.

“The government’s position is laid out in its filings,” Department of the Interior (DOI) spokesperson Melissa Schwartz told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email Wednesday. (RELATED: Biden Admin Bows To Environmental Activists, Quietly Delays Another Oil And Gas Lease Sale)

In April, the DOI — which hasn’t held a single onshore oil and gas lease sale during President Joe Biden’s tenure — finally scheduled six sales for June, saying the court injunction issued more than 10 months prior had forced its hand. However, the agency delayed four of the sales, one of which was scheduled for Tuesday, after environmental groups filed protests.

Schwartz didn’t comment on why the administration has continued to argue in favor of the ban or if it would cancel the scheduled sales altogether if the court reinstated the ban over the next week.

The average price of gasoline hit a record $5.02 per gallon Tuesday while the average price of diesel fuel hit a record $5.78 a gallon Wednesday, AAA data showed.

An oil drilling rig works in the Permian Basin oil field on March 13 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

An oil drilling rig works in the Permian Basin oil field on March 13 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“For decades, presidents of both parties have faithfully executed the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and Mineral Leasing Act—Congress’s meticulously crafted framework governing oil and gas leasing on federal lands,” the states wrote in their April filing. “Those statutes’ import is unambiguous: the Executive Branch must work with the States to facilitate the expeditious and safe development of onshore and offshore federal energy resources.”

“By executive fiat, however, President Biden has brought this entire regime to a halt,” they continued. “Defendants’ administration-wide Pause on onshore and offshore oil-and-natural-gas development is unauthorized by any statute.”

The states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, first filed the lawsuit in March 2021, two months after Biden signed an executive order implementing the leasing ban.

Administration officials, meanwhile, have continued to suggest Biden is still in favor of the leasing ban.

“President Biden remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands,” White House climate czar Gina McCarthy told MSNBC in April.

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