Jeff Landry leads 13-state lawsuit to overturn oil and gas lease ban

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is leading a 13-state lawsuit against the Biden administration for what he calls “an attack on American energy independence, good-paying jobs, and affordable energy for all.” 

In an announcement published this morning, Landry says the 13 states seek a court order ending the moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands imposed after President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change Jan. 27.

The suit specifically seeks an order that the government go ahead with a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that had been scheduled for March 17 until it was canceled; and a lease sale that had been planned for this year in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

And it calls for other suspended lease sales to go forward. Sales also have been postponed for federal lands in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada and New Mexico.

Biden and multiple federal agencies bypassed comment periods and other bureaucratic steps required before such delays can be undertaken, the states claim in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in the federal court’s Western District of Louisiana.

The lawsuit notes that coastal states receive significant revenue from onshore and offshore oil and gas activity. Stopping leases, the lawsuit argues, would diminish revenue that pays for Louisiana efforts to restore coastal wetlands, raise energy costs and lead to major job losses in oil-producing states.

At a news conference, Landry accused the Biden administration of “effectively banning oil and gas activity that supports businesses, employs our workers and, also, as importantly, funds our coastal restoration projects.”

Although Landry and the lawsuit’s supporters say the moratorium has already driven up prices and endangered energy jobs, Biden’s suspension doesn’t stop companies from drilling on existing leases. But a long-term halt to oil and gas sales would curb future production and could hurt states like Louisiana that are heavily dependent on the industry.

Biden’s team has argued that companies still have plenty of undeveloped leases—almost 14 million acres in Western states and more than 9 million acres offshore. Companies also have about 7,700 unused drilling permits—enough for years.

On top of Landry’s lawsuit announcement today, Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy joined several other Republican senators claiming an upcoming forum on Biden’s future plans for American oil and gas fails to include voices from their energy-producing states, The Houma Courier reports