A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked President Joe Biden’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, delivering a setback to the administration’s efforts to transition away from fossil fuels.
Biden, on his first day in office, signed the order, which says the federal government “must advance environmental justice” and, among other efforts, “reduce greenhouse gas emissions” and “bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change.”
Landry and the other plaintiffs argued that the administration bypassed comment periods and other bureaucratic steps required before a drilling permit pause could be imposed, and that the move would cost the states money and jobs.
The judge added that, in imposing the moratorium, the Biden administration failed to provide sufficient rationale for its decision.
“The omission of any rational explanation in canceling the lease sales, and in enacting the Pause, results in this Court ruling that Plaintiff States also have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of this claim,” the judge wrote.
Interior Department Communications Director Melissa Schwartz responded to the injunction in a statement, saying, “We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and will comply with the decision,” although she didn’t specify any plans to appeal the injunction.
“The Interior Department continues to work on an interim report that will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future,” she added.
“While our fight is far from over, I am pleased the Court granted preliminary relief against the President’s unconscionable attack on American energy,” Landry said in a statement.