Court Orders US Oil and Gas Leasing To Continue

The Biden administration has appealed a district court decision to restart oil and gas leasing programs in the US.

The current plan could see the next lease sale in the US Gulf of Mexico held in October.

The US Interior Department will resume sales of oil and gas leases following a preliminary injunction entered by a district court on the Biden administration’s moratorium on new leasing. Federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing programs will continue as required by the court while the government’s appeal of the injunction is pending.

Department of Justice filed a brief advising the district court of the steps taken by the Interior Department to comply with the preliminary injunction, including next steps in the offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing processes.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will submit the Record of Decision for Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico to the Federal Register by the end of August. The sale notice for Lease Sale 257 is expected to be published in September. By law, the lease sale may not take place sooner than 30 days after publication of the sale notice. This fall, BOEM also will issue and take comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement analyzing Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet in Alaska.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices will post for scoping parcels included in Q1 andQ2 2021 leasing deferrals by the end of August. Following a 30-day scoping period and consideration of comments received, the BLM will undertake environmental reviews of parcels for potential leasing. Following this review, state offices will identify any eligible parcels and applicable stipulations in lease sale notices posted later this year.

“In complying with the district court’s injunction, the Interior Department will continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under law to conduct leasing in a manner that fulfills Interior’s legal responsibilities, including to take into account the programs’ documented deficiencies,” the department said in a statement.

The Interior Department added it continues to review the programs’ noted shortcomings, including completing a report. It also will undertake a programmatic analysis to address what changes in the its programs may be necessary to meet President Biden’s targets of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.