GARLINGTON: States Should Nullify Biden Drilling Moratorium

Editor’s Note: a guest post by Walt Garlington

The responses to the Biden Administration’s halting of new oil and gas leases run a pretty wide circle.

La. State Senator Bob Hensgens wants to take Pres Biden on a pleasant stroll along the Louisiana bayous.  Gov Edwards wants to sing Kumbaya with the Biden Administration.  US Senators Cassidy and Kennedy sent Pres Biden a letter with some tough words.

With all due respect to these men, none of what they have done or are proposing will make much of a difference to the uncompromising, Gaia-worshipping ideologues behind the moratoriums that Pres Biden issued.  They will simply shrug them off as irritations on their way to Utopia.

What will make a difference is for Louisiana’s State government to nullify this federal moratorium into oblivion.  Nowhere in the Philadelphia charter do the States cede control of their territorial waters to the federal government.

In this case, then, as in so many others, the offspring of the States is acting in an unruly manner towards its parents.  And once again, it behooves the parents to rein in the bad behavior of their child if they ever want to see any improvement in its behavior.

The Freedom to Drill Act, first proposed when the Obama Administration instituted its drilling moratorium round about 2011, is one place the Louisiana Legislature and Governor can start.  And they can take as their inspiration the actions of our Yankee neighbors some 200 years ago when they were placed in a similar position by the federal government:

The embargo law of 1813 was intended to punish Great Britain for harassing American vessels at sea by barring all American trade with Great Britain.  But as J. J. Kilpatrick noted in his book The Sovereign States, ‘Trade with Britain was the lifeblood of New England.’  Because of the federal embargo, ‘That blood was being drained away.’

The citizens of Massachusetts, suffering greatly because of the economic collapse that resulted from the trade ban, gathered in town halls across the state to discuss the matter and issued ‘a flood of memorials and remonstrances’ which the Massachusetts state Legislature then acted upon.


In Lloyd’s Report of Feb 18, 1814, Massachusetts declared, ‘A power to regulate commerce is abused, when employed to destroy it; and a manifest and voluntary abuse of power sanctions the right of resistance, as much as a direct and palpable usurpation. The sovereignty reserved to the States, was reserved to protect the citizens from acts of violence by the United States, as well as for purposes of domestic regulation. We spurn the idea that the free, sovereign and independent State of Massachusetts is reduced to a mere municipal corporation, without power to protect its people, and to defend them from oppression, from whatever quarter it comes. Whenever the national compact is violated, and the citizens of this State are oppressed by cruel and unauthorized laws, this Legislature is bound to interpose its power, and wrest from the oppressor his victim.’

It is noteworthy that Massachusetts refused to petition the federal government to repeal the embargo law, for that had proved fruitless in the past.  Instead, Kilpatrick writes, ‘the people were urged patiently to wait “for the effectual interposition of the State Government for their relief.”  The embargo, in the State’s official view, was “unconstitutional and void.”’

What was the effect of these state and local efforts?  Kilpatrick again:  ‘…the embargo act of December, 1813, was not effectively enforced and soon was repealed, largely because of the interposition of the New England States.

As we also mentioned in that article, it is necessary for Louisiana to be able to protect oil and gas employers and employees from whatever sanctions the federal government might choose to place on them.  We can only do this from a position of financial strength.  In this regard, Texas offers a good example to follow:  She has built a bullion depository and has started filling it with gold, silver, etc.  Other States are considering similar actions.  If Louisiana had a repository of real financial assets like Texas, she wouldn’t have to worry about any vengeful actions of the behemoth she and the other States have allowed to grow in the swamps of the Potomac.

Ending the federal drilling moratorium is just one example of many where State nullification can bring about a good, peaceful resolution to a thorny problem between the federal government and the States.  If folks in Louisiana want to help push forward the Freedom to Drill Act and other State nullification actions, they are always welcome to join us at the Louisiana State Sovereignty Committee.



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