Thirteen Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Biden administration for halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
The lawsuit argues President Joe Biden’s executive order on drilling permits “contravenes congressional commands” that require executive agencies to develop the “abundant energy resources on public lands.”
“Those leases do more than allow America to reach its full energy-production potential — they provide significant environmental benefits because portions of the lease proceeds are invested into vital State environmental defense and restoration projects,” the 13 attorneys general, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, wrote.
“In fact, each year the federal government returns billions of dollars to the States and environmental reclamation projects from [Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act] and [Mineral Leasing Act] lease proceeds for critical environmental restoration and protection projects.”
The suit added, “It took President Biden just seven days to confirm that neither the United States Code nor billions of dollars in environmental benefits and State revenue would constrain his stated campaign policy.”
Days after the Interior Department moved against existing leases, Biden signed an executive order in January that stopped all oil and gas leasing operations, NPR reported.
“By executive fiat, Joe Biden and his administration have single-handedly driven the price of energy up — costing the American people where it hurts most, in their pocketbooks,” Landry said in a statement.
“Biden’s Executive Orders abandon middle-class jobs at a time when America needs them most and put our energy security in the hands of foreign countries, many of whom despise America’s greatness.”
Landry said canceling the lease sales will reduce his state’s funding under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which provides money for coastal restoration projects, by up to $57 million.
Other states that are part of the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The Interior Department will hold a public forum on the future of oil and gas leasing on Thursday via Zoom Webinar, according to a news release.
The information gathered during the forum will be used to “outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.”
Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told senators during her confirmation hearing that the leasing pause wouldn’t be a “permanent thing,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“It’s a pause,” Haaland said before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“It’s not going to be a permanent thing where we are restricting all these things from something.”
Twelve attorneys general have already sued Biden and other government agencies over a climate change order that would expand federal environmental regulation by examining the “social cost” of increases in greenhouse gases, according to the Washington Examiner.
“It will destroy jobs, stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, deter innovation, and impoverish working families. It undermines the sovereignty of the States and tears at the fabric of liberty,” the suit said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has also led 21 attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging Biden’s decision to halt construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.