Biden administration blocked from selling new offshore oil leases in Gulf of Mexico

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg October 26, 2023

(Bloomberg) – The Biden administration is at least temporarily barred from selling new offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico amid concerns about the risks to an endangered whale, under a ruling Thursday by a Louisiana-based federal circuit court.

The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is a blow to the oil industry, including the American Petroleum Institute as well as units of Chevron Corp. and Shell Plc, which had pushed for the auction, set to be the last of its kind until 2025.

The Fifth Circuit stayed an earlier injunction that had required the Interior Department to hold the lease sale by Nov. 8, including some 6 million acres it had previously pulled off the auction block. The agency also would have been forced to scrap planned vessel traffic limitations. The sale and those requirements are now effectively on hold until the Fifth Circuit can consider the merits of the issue.

API Senior Vice President Ryan Meyers argued the earlier injunction “that halted the Biden administration’s unlawful restrictions on the continued access and development of reliable, lower-carbon energy in the Gulf of Mexico was fully justified.” The group will keep pressing “to provide greater certainty for American energy workers, the Gulf Coast economy and a stronger future for U.S. energy security,” he said.

Representatives of the Interior Department did not comment on the ruling. Oral arguments in the case are set for Nov. 13.

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