WASHINGTON, DC – Amid ongoing court battles over oil and gas leases with Republican state attorneys general, including Louisiana’s Jeff Landry, the Biden administration is once again pausing the leases as it appeals a judge’s ruling that higher federal estimates for the cost of greenhouse gas emissions were too burdensome for energy-producing states.
As reported by The Advocate, the US Department of Justice appealed a Feb. 11 ruling last Friday by federal District Judge James David Cain, of Lake Charles, that ruled that the administration’s action to raise the cost estimate of carbon emissions would unfairly increase regulatory expenses for energy-producing states. The cost estimate, also known as the social cost of carbon, outlines the economic costs of emitting one additional ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Several Republican attorneys general filed suit last April over the increased estimate, citing fears of economic damage to their states.
The Justice Department’s Friday filing notes that oil and gas leases have stopped since the Feb. 11 ruling. “Work surrounding public-facing rules, grants, leases, permits, and other projects has been delayed or stopped altogether so that agencies can assess whether and how they can proceed,” the filing said.
The White House has been sparring with attorneys general, including Landry, over drilling policies ever since Biden halted all oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters shortly after he took office in January 2021.
Landry joined 12 other attorneys general in filing a lawsuit in March 2021 to block Biden’s order. US District Judge Terry Doughty, of Lafayette, granted the 13-state group a preliminary injunction that paved the way for a November lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
However, another federal judge in Washington invalidated the sale, saying it violated federal law by failing to properly account for potential effects on greenhouse gas emissions.
The American Petroleum Institute has said it intends to revive the lease sale results.