Fourteen states have filed suit against the Biden Administration in U.S. District Court in western Louisiana. According to the states’ motion for summary judgment, Biden’s efforts to obstruct domestic oil production have violated at least two federal laws—namely the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) which requires the United States government to regularly open the outer continental shelf for energy production and the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) which requires the federal government to hold lease sales of its land for energy production on a quarterly basis.
The states’ motion contends that
Defendants’ administration-wide Pause on onshore and offshore oil-and-natural-gas development is unauthorized by any statute and directly violates OCSLA and the MLA. And the Pause is quintessential arbitrary-and-capricious decision making: it lacks any explanation (much less a reasoned one), and it ignores statutory factors, State reliance interests, and previous administration positions.
The states also challenge Biden’s Executive Order 14008 entitled “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad”
According to Section 208 of the order,
Oil and Natural Gas Development on Public Lands and in Offshore Waters. To the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of the Interior shall pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices in light of the Secretary of the Interior’s broad stewardship responsibilities over the public lands and in offshore waters, including potential climate and other impacts associated with oil and gas activities on public lands or in offshore waters.
The states contend that Biden lacks the statutory or constitutional authority to make such an order. Furthermore, the order violates the terms of both OCSLA and MLA. Thus, according to the states, the order should be struck down by the court.
[These] are not victimless violations. The States rely on statutory revenue-sharing provisions from lease sales for billions of dollars in annual funding, including for education and environmental restoration projects. And energy production supports thousands of jobs and significant investment and tax revenue. The Court should end those illegalities and fix those errors by granting summary judgment to Plaintiffs and holding that the Biden Administration’s Pause violates the law.
The Biden Administration filed responsive pleadings asking the court to (1) deny the states’ motion for summary judgment and (2) grant summary judgment in favor of the administration. Oral arguments should be heard in the coming months.