The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday threw out a lower court’s order that would have stopped the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, according to court filings.
The 5th Circuit court appeals court vacated the Louisiana district court’s decision to block the Interior Department’s (DOI) leasing pause after Louisiana and a dozen other states filed a lawsuit against the administration, arguing that they would suffer injury from the policy, according to legal documents. The federal court determined that the lower court’s directive does not specifically outline what the Biden administration is and is not permitted to do. (RELATED: Biden Admin Considers Banning All Offshore Drilling As Energy Crisis Worsens: REPORT)
The appeals court sent the case back to the Louisiana district court, arguing that it must first address the procedural problem before the case can proceed, according to court filings.
“We cannot reach the merits of the Government’s challenge when we cannot ascertain from the record what conduct—an unwritten agency policy, a written policy outside of the Executive Order, or the Executive Order itself— is enjoined,” said a three-judge panel in the briefs.
“Our review of (Administrative Procedure Act) claims must begin by determining if there was final agency action. Where, as here, it is unclear what final agency action the district court predicated its order upon, we are unable to reach the merits of the appeal,” the judges stated.
President Joe Biden halted the issuance of new government leases in January 2021 as part of a comprehensive effort to limit fossil fuel production on federal land and mitigate the effects of climate change. Biden stated that the suspension should be implemented “pending completion of a study and reconsideration of oil and gas permitting and leasing practices,” according to the presidential order that mandated the pause.
“We are reviewing the decision,” a DOI spokeswoman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
However, the Department of the Interior (DOI) completed its review in November 2021; however, the administration has continued to delay leasing. The government must hold more lease sales, including one by the end of this year, to be in accordance with the Democrats’ new climate, tax and health care legislation, which Biden signed on Tuesday.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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