We’d heard from several sources after the Biden administration launched its attack on the oil and gas industry in January, shutting down pipelines and blocking the lease of federal lands for oil and gas exploration, that what it was doing was illegal and wouldn’t stand up in court. It was only a matter of time before somebody came along and took Biden to the woodshed for it.
It turns out that somebody was Jeff Landry. From a press release yesterday evening…
A Federal Judge has granted Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s request for a preliminary injunction against President Biden’s reckless abuse of Presidential power that threatens American families’ livelihoods and our national security. Judge Terry Doughty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued the nationwide injunction against Biden’s ban on oil and gas leases on federal lands.
“This is a victory not only for the rule of law, but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans,” declared Attorney General Landry, who led the 13-state lawsuit against Biden’s Executive Order 14008 which declared a moratorium on future oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on federal lands.
In a hearing last Thursday, the federal government admitted a March 2021 auction of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and a planned auction of leases in Alaska’s Cook Inlet were halted in response to an order by President Biden. The Court found that Louisiana and the other Plaintiffs are likely to prove seven onshore lease auctions were halted for the same reason, and that the federal government’s environmental claims are pretextual.
“The President’s Executive Order abandons middle-class jobs, cripples our economy, and hits everyday Americans where it hurts the most – their pocketbooks,” continued Attorney General Landry. “What’s more: it attacks Louisiana’s coast by reducing the revenue and royalties used for coastal restoration and hurricane protection.”
In last week’s oral arguments, lawyers from Attorney General Landry’s Office said that Biden Officials cannot legally halt all lease sales because Congress, by statute, has commanded that such lease sales happen on a regular basis. They cited the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act as explicitly prohibiting the Biden Ban.
“While our fight is far from over, I am pleased the Court granted preliminary relief against the President’s unconscionable attack on American energy,” concluded Attorney General Landry.
The case is captioned Louisiana v. Biden, No. 2:21-cv-778. Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill is lead counsel; Deputy Solicitor Scott St. John argued for the preliminary injunction.
A link to Judge Doughty’s ruling can be found here.
The news was met with huzzahs and kudos from members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Here was Rep. Garret Graves…
“I told you so. Today’s ruling by Louisiana’s U.S. District Court Judge affirmed what we knew would happen the moment the pen hit the paper on the moratoriums. Interior’s arbitrary decisions have had grave consequences and we thank the judge for realizing these impacts. The Administration’s decision to cancel America’s energy leasing will result in higher gas prices and less funding for hurricane protection, flood control and coastal restoration.”
And here was Rep. Clay Higgins…
“Jeff Landry has delivered a win for the entire country. He’s a man we can count on to get the job done. I’m honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with him, fighting for Louisiana.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy even got in on the fun…
“This is fantastic news for workers in Louisiana whose livelihoods are being threatened by the administration’s thoughtless energy policy,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The president should not be able to take away tens of thousands of jobs to fulfill a campaign promise. We need a long-term, all-of-the-above strategy that does not pick winners and losers. The Department of the Interior should immediately begin moving forward with another offshore lease sale.”
And of course the business trade groups involved were pretty stoked about it. Here was the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s statement…
Earlier today, Federal District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking President Biden’s Executive Order 14008 that halts all new oil leasing permits on federal land.
A short time ago, Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Mike Moncla released a statement regarding this ruling in federal court:
“This ruling is a win for every worker in the country, but especially in Louisiana where we depend so much on the Gulf of Mexico. The policies of this administration have been grueling for Americans at the pump, so hopefully legal decisions like these will help ease that pain on Americans.
Louisiana’s economy has suffered under this pandemic, and the energy sector has gotten the brunt of it. If President Biden wants to truly enact policies that get this nation back on track, he should join the industry’s efforts in modernizing clean energy practices while maintaining a prosperous economy.
Even though the fight against the Biden Administration’s climate agenda is far from over, this is a glimmer of hope for an industry that has suffered under this White House.”
The federal court ruling comes days after Attorney General Jeff Landry made arguments in U.S. District Court opposing the executive order.
How excited about all this should we be? Well, oil is trading above $70 now, and that’s a price at which it starts to become possible that oil and gas producers would look at ramping up exploration in the Gulf. That would be awfully good news for Louisiana communities like Houma and Lafayette, which have been suffering for years now as the offshore oil industry has dried up.
Except the Biden administration has to actually abide by this ruling and begin lease sales again. We aren’t convinced they’ll actually do it. Our guess is they’ll drag their feet, or worse – they’ll appeal Doughty’s decision to the 5th Circuit, where they’ll lose, and to the Supreme Court, where they’ll also lose. But the delay and confusion will serve as a de facto leasing ban, at least until Biden is out of office.
Still, you take your victories where you find them. Hope won yesterday, and Landry’s team deserves credit for fighting the good fight and winning.