Oil industry sues Biden administration over ‘unprecedented’ leasing freeze

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American Petroleum Institute leads 11 energy associations

The American Petroleum Institute and other major energy trade groups filed a lawsuit Monday against what they called the Interior Department’s “unprecedented” freeze on new oil and gas leasing on public lands.

No drilling auctions have been held since President Biden issued his Jan. 27 executive order, a gap that the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana described as a violation of federal law.

“The law is clear: The department must hold lease sales and provide a justification for significant policy changes,” said Paul Afonso, API senior vice president and chief legal officer. “They have yet to meet these requirements in the eight months since instituting a federal leasing pause, which continues to create uncertainty for U.S. natural gas and oil producers.”

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“Defendants have suddenly and comprehensively upended the status quo by indefinitely postponing or canceling all federal oil and gas lease sales without providing any rationale,” the lawsuit said. “Indeed, defendants are not even willing to publicly admit what they are doing, much less provide an explanation sufficient to justify the change.”

Ten lease sales were canceled after Mr. Biden issued the executive order, the complaint said.



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