Trump-Appointed Judge Blocks Biden Moratorium on Oil and Gas Leasing

Trump-appointed federal judge in Louisiana issued a permanent injunction Thursday against President Joe Biden’s moratorium on oil and gas lease sales on public lands and waters, a decision that came just 24 hours after a different court ruled that the administration’s long-blocked drilling freeze could take effect.

Judge Terry Doughty of U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana is the same judge as temporarily halted Biden’s lease sale moratorium last year, sided Thursday with the 13 fossil fuel industry-friendly Republican attorneys general who sued to block the pause.

Doughty’s ruling applies only to the 13 states that took legal action against the Biden administration: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Just a day before Doughty’s ruling — which contends that the Mineral Leasing Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act “require government defendants’ agencies to sell oil and gas leases” — a federal appellate judge struck down the Trump judge’s earlier injunction, sending it back to the lower court.

The Biden administration repeatedly cited court rulings against the president’s moratorium as an excuse to move ahead with lease saleson public lands or waters, despite the existence of a Justice Department memo arguing that Doughty’s 2021 injunction did not require the administration to actively auction off huge tracts of federal property for oil and gas drilling.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden vowed to prohibit all “new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters” as part of his effort to rein in planet-warming emissions. One analysisSince 2005, approximately 25% of all U.S. Carbon emissions has come from fossil fuel extraction on federal lands.

But during its first year in power, Biden’s administration approved drilling permits at a faster paceIt is more industry-related than its predecessor.

Last month, the Interior Department of Biden was established sparked outrageIt suggested that it would be open for new oil and natural gas drilling in federal waters off Alaska’s coast and in the Gulf of Mexico to environmentalists. Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). signed into lawThis week’s bill, which was approved earlier in the week, includes provisions that require fossil fuel lease sales to be made in the Gulf of Mexico or Alaska. This is a gift for the oil industry and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Denouncing the lease sales provisions in the IRA, Earthworks said in a statement late last month that “avoiding climate disaster requires us to stop all new oil and gas drilling on U.S. lands and waters now and begin phasing existing extraction out entirely.”