Court upholds 2022 onshore oil and gas lease sales following Biden’s “unlawful” leasing ban

March 25, 2024

(WO) – Western Energy Alliance won a significant victory in court last Friday as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the first onshore oil and gas lease sales of the Biden administration, held in June 2022.

Judge Christopher Copper ruled in favor of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis that served as the basis of the sale of 162 leases in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. The Alliance’s intervention in the case to support BLM was pivotal, as the judge relied heavily on the trade association’s arguments on the type of climate change analysis necessary for lease sales to go forward.

“After President Biden’s unlawful leasing ban issued his first week in office was overturned in court, the first sales were finally held in June 2022. Of course, anti-oil-and-gas groups who want absolutely no development absolutely anywhere, immediately sued,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance.

“Our legal team argued that the Biden administration’s own interagency working group, comprised of every relevant department in the Executive Branch including the Environmental Protection Agency, has been unable to define what level of emissions is significant in NEPA analyses.

“It is illogical to expect BLM, which is the expert agency on land management but not the government’s climate change scientific research agency, to do so on its own. The judge relied heavily upon Western Energy Alliance’s expertise in his ruling, citing our legal brief’s arguments on social cost of carbon analysis and the lack of BLM’s authority to set a carbon budget.

“Oil and natural gas developed on federal lands is some of the most sustainably produced in the world, subject to many more environmental protections than nonfederal lands and especially in comparison to other major producing countries.

“If we don’t produce it on federal lands, we must produce it elsewhere or import it from overseas, where GHG intensity is higher. With the continued lack of an alternative that does everything that oil and natural gas do, environmental groups like the plaintiffs we defeated in court continue to advance unrealistic energy policies that are worse for the environment and would result in higher levels of GHG emissions.”

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