Wyoming Sues Biden Administration, Alleges Suspensions of Oil Lease Sales Illegal

Wyoming Sues Biden Administration, Alleges Suspensions of Oil Lease Sales Illegal
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks in Cheyenne, Wyo., on March 2, 2021. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP)
Bryan Jung

The State of Wyoming filed a second lawsuit against the Biden Administration, alleging that its suspension of oil lease sales were illegal.

Gov. Mark Gordon (R-Wyom.) announced that his state filed the lawsuit against the Interior Department for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to halt oil and gas lease sales in the state.

“This litigation is timely and vital to the interests of Wyoming citizens,” said Gordon in a statement.

“Beyond that, Wyoming’s energy resources can help power the nation and bring down costs at the pump. BLM’s decision to cancel lease sales sure seems to be a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law.

“I firmly believe the pause in lease sales was politically driven and not based in law or fact,” the governor continued.

After state officials filed their first lawsuit to reverse the department’s order to pause federal oil and gas leasing in Wyoming for the first quarter of 2021, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the Biden administration.

The court ruled that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision was lawful but did not decide whether other cancelations violated the law.

Wyoming Files Second Lawsuit for Drilling

The current lawsuit is focused on oil sales that that failed to occur in the second and third quarters of 2021, and the third quarter of this year.

Gordon accused BLM of going 18 months without issuing a single oil and gas lease sale and failing to restart regularly scheduled quarterly lease sales.

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill argued that the Secretary of the Interior lacked the same justification that it previously used for subsequent missing lease sales.

“Throughout my tenure as Governor, I have remained committed to protecting Wyoming and her economy against overreach from the federal government, and that is what this litigation is intended to do. I thank Attorney General Hill for defending Wyoming’s interests,” the governor said.

Haaland explained in April that her department’s actions were meant to protect local communities, the environment, air, and water quality, against the influence of the energy industry.

“Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources for the benefit of all current and future generations,” said the Interior chief.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced earlier this week its intention to auction off one million acres of coastal waters off Alaska for oil and gas drilling by Dec. 30.

An amendment was inserted into the Inflation Reduction Act as part of a compromise demanded by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) to gain his support for the passage of the bill.

The Interior Department had only leased 126,228 acres of land for drilling, before it opened up the territory off Alaska after Biden took office, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Biden only leased 4.4 million acres for drilling in the first 19 months of his term—the lowest on record since President Nixon’s first term—amid soaring domestic and global energy prices.

He also was responsible for halting the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have supplied 830,000 barrels of oil to the United States from Canada.

Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
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