Court hearing: Did Biden legally suspend oil lease sales?

May 9, 2022, 10:04 AM | Updated: May 10, 2022, 1:02 pm
FILE - An oil drilling rig is pictured at sunset, Monday, March 7, 2022, in El Reno, Okla. A federa...

FILE - An oil drilling rig is pictured at sunset, Monday, March 7, 2022, in El Reno, Okla. A federal appeals court in New Orleans hears arguments Tuesday, May 10, 2022, about whether President Joe Biden legally suspended new oil and gas lease sales because of climate change worries. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Joe Biden legally called for suspending new and gas lease sales while considering their effect on climate change, and onshore and offshore sales were legally postponed, a federal attorney argued Tuesday.

The current offshore lease sale plan states specifically that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior “may reduce or cancel lease offerings on account of climate change,” Department of Justice attorney Andrew B. Bernie told a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel.

Land-based sales “were not postponed by the executive order. They were postponed because of a need to comply with NEPA” — the National Environmental Policy Act, he said.

Arguing for 13 states that challenged Biden’s January 2021 order, Louisiana Deputy Solicitor General Joseph Scott St. John said laws passed in response to the 1970s oil crisis require lease sales.

The Biden administration failed to “grapple with prior analyses” of the planned sales to give a valid reason for postponing or canceling them, he said.

Judges James L. Dennis, Patrick E. Higginbotham and James E. Graves Jr. did not indicate when they will rule.

Louisiana is joined in the suit by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

The state challenge to Biden’s order has not yet gone to trial but a federal judge blocked the order in a preliminary injunction, writing that since the laws did not state the president could suspend oil lease sales, only Congress could do so.

Bernie said, “It is routine for individual lease sales or proposed lease sales not to be held for various reasons.” The federal brief said nine five-year leasing plans have been approved and all had fewer sales than originally scheduled.

“We don’t know why prior lease sales were withdrawn,” St. John responded. “Presumably there was some kind of rationale. That was not the case here.”

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty found that states which challenged the order were likely to prove the Interior Department violated the Administrative Policy Act by acting without “any rational explanation.”

After Doughty ruled for the states, the Interior Department held an offshore lease sale, which a federal judge in Washington canceled. Four onshore lease sales are scheduled next month — for land in Nevada on June 14; New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado on June 16; Wyoming on June 22 and Utah, Montana and North Dakota on June 28.

However, the administration scaled back the amount of land originally on offer and raised royalty rates 50% from 12.5% to 18.75%. That’s the amount usually charged for desirable deep water offshore leases, while those in less than 656 feet (200 meters) of water are charged the 12.5% minimum.

Biden has come under pressure to increase U.S. crude production as fuel prices spike because of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. From within his own party, the Democrat faces calls to do more to curb emissions from fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

Oil companies have been reluctant to ramp up, saying there are not enough workers, scant money for new drilling investments and wariness that today’s high prices won’t last.

___

Associated Press writer Matt Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss arrives to attend the Conservative Party conference at the ICC, ...
Associated Press

UK’s Truss sticks by economic plan as her party worries

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss said Sunday that she could have done a better job “laying the ground” for her package of unfunded tax cuts, but insisted she would push on with an economic plan that has caused turmoil on financial markets and weakened the country’s public finances. Truss acknowledged that the […]
1 day ago
Latvian Prime Minister and Head of board of leading political party Jauna Vienotiba (New Unity) Kri...
Associated Press

Latvian premier’s party emerges on top in general election

HELSINKI (AP) — Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ ruling center-right party won the most votes in Latvia’s general election, centrist parties were runners-up and pro-Moscow parties crashed in a vote that was shaped by neighboring Russia’s war in Ukraine and divisions among the Baltic country’s sizable ethnic Russian minority. With more than 97% of the votes […]
1 day ago
Ukrainian servicemen drive a tank on the way to Siversk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, Oct. 1,...
Associated Press

Ukraine presses counteroffensive after Russian setback

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia attacked the Ukrainian president’s hometown with suicide drones on Sunday, and Ukraine pushed ahead with its counteroffensive after taking back control of a strategic eastern city. Russia’s loss of Lyman, which it had been using as a transport and logistics hub, is a new blow to the Kremlin as it […]
1 day ago
Police cars wrecked in soccer riots are seen on the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Jav...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind Indonesia’s deadly soccer match?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Violence and a deadly stampede that erupted following a domestic league soccer match Saturday night marked another tragedy in Indonesian football. Here’s a look at how the chaos occurred and what is being done to prevent future incidents. ___ HOW DID THE CHAOS OCCUR? Chaos broke out after Persebaya Surabaya defeated […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Military: Gunmen kill Pakistani UN peacekeeper in east Congo

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani soldier serving as a U.N. peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed in a militant attack in the country’s volatile east, the military said. A group of six militants reached the United Nations’ permanent operation base in the district of Minembwe, ostensibly to surrender their weapons as part […]
1 day ago
Buddhist monks perform rituals during the funeral of famed American extreme skier Hilaree Nelson in...
Associated Press

Famed US extreme skier gets traditional Nepalese funeral

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A famed extreme skier from the United States who was killed after falling from one of the world’s tallest mountains was on Sunday given a traditional funeral at a Sherpa cremation ground as Buddhist monks officiated over a ceremony attended by family, friends and government officials. Hilaree Nelson, 49, fell off […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Court hearing: Did Biden legally suspend oil lease sales?