IN BRIEF: Biden admin tells court oil and gas leasing pause legal

Drill pipes sit aboard an idle oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana August 11, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Celano
  • Leasing pause is not court-reviewable action, says DOJ
  • Cannot "replace" executive decision "with a judicial order"

(Reuters) - The Biden administration told a Lake Charles, Louisiana, federal court on Thursday that it should reject a bid by a dozen Louisiana-led Republican attorneys general to freeze its January decision to pause new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The administration said in a filing that the court should not grant the coalition of states' motion to preliminarily enjoin it from putting on hold the oil and gas leasing program because the decision is not the result of a final agency action that can be reviewed by courts under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but rather stems from a presidential executive order.

The office of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Neither did Department of Justice lawyers representing the Biden administration.

The coalition of attorneys general sued in March to restore regular federal leasing auctions.

The states joining Louisiana's lawsuit, including Texas and Alaska, allege the administration's leasing pause violates the Mineral Leasing Act that requires quarterly lease sales. They also say the federal agencies implementing the order failed to follow APA-required rulemaking procedures. They moved for a preliminary injunction days after filing their lawsuit.

The Biden administration has launcheda review of the federal oil and gas leasing program, which will inform an interim report to be released in early summer. The states' attempt to freeze the leasing pause seeks to "replace the Executive Branch's supervision of federal lands with a judicial order from this Court," the filing says.

The case is Louisiana et al v Biden et al, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, No. 2:21-cv-00778.

For Louisiana et al: Elizabeth Murrill with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office

For Biden et al: Thomas Ports with the U.S. Department of Justice

Read more:

Biden administration pauses federal drilling program in climate push Biden administration to launch review of future of federal oil leasing program Fourteen U.S. states sue Biden administration over oil and gas leasing pause

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Thomson Reuters

New York-based correspondent covering environmental, climate and energy litigation.