On Thursday, a federal judge ruled against a planned sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, claiming, without evidence, that the leases would be damaging to the environment.
As reported by CNN, the Biden Administration made an effort to shut down all oil and gas leases across the country shortly after Biden came to power, with an executive order on January 27th indefinitely halting all new permits for such leases, pending a “rigorous review” of fossil fuel development programs. However, a lawsuit filed by 13 states ultimately led to a federal court in Louisiana blocking Biden’s order, allowing the sale of 80 million acres to move forward in November.
But following another lawsuit filed by radical environmental activist groups, Judge Rudolph Contreras, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, ordered that the planned leases of 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico be canceled. He claimed in his ruling that the sale was invalid because the analysis by the Department of Interior allegedly did not include potential impacts on the climate before approving the sale.
Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Department of Interior, issued a statement agreeing with Contreras’ ruling, further claiming that the sale was approved using the prior analysis conducted by the Trump Administration’s Department of Interior.
“Our public lands and waters must be protected for generations to come,” said Schwartz. “We have documented serious deficiencies in the federal oil and gas program. Especially in the face of the climate crisis, we need to take the time to make significant and long overdue programmatic reforms. Our work will be guided by the law, science and sound policy.”
The latest lawsuit was filed by a coalition of far-left environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, Healthy Gulf, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The group was represented by an environmental law firm called Earthjustice.
“We are pleased that the court invalidated Interior’s illegal lease sale,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Brettny Hardy. “We simply cannot continue to make investments in the fossil fuel industry to the peril of our communities and increasingly warming planet.”
On the other side of the lawsuit, the American Petroleum Institute’s Scott Lauermann described the judge’s decision as “disappointing,” and said that API would be considering all options in moving forward.