U.S. court vacates decision to block federal oil, gas leasing pause

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a bill signing ceremony where the president is signing "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" into law in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday vacated a lower court's decision to block the Biden administration's pause on new oil and gas leasing on federal land and waters - a key piece of the president's climate change strategy - and sent the case back to that court for further proceedings.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Louisiana district court decision to block the Interior Department's leasing pause after Louisiana and a dozen states sued the administration established arguing that they would suffer injury from the policy.

The court said the district court's order and accompanying memorandum "lack specificity" and said its injunction focused on an Interior Department action which was not yet finalized.

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President Joe Biden had paused the government's new leases in January 2021 as part of a sweeping plan to rein in fossil-fuel extraction on federal land and combat the effects of climate change.

The Interior Department last year said it would proceed with new leases during the appeals process "consistent with the district court’s injunction during the appeal."

It is currently reviewing the decision, Interior spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said.

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Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Mark Porter, Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft

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