Thursday, July 18, 2024

Louisiana petroleum industry leaders hail court win, but say fight over lease ban is not over

by BIZ Magazine

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

Leaders in Louisiana’s oil and gas industry are praising a recent court ruling that halts President Biden’s ban on lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, but they warn the legal battle is likely not over.

A federal judge last month issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases for federal lands and waters, ruling the president exceeded his authority when he issued an executive order in January 2021.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and 12 other plaintiff states alleging Biden’s executive violated the Mineral Leasing Act and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued a permanent injunction in the case on Aug. 18, agreeing with Landry that Biden’s executive order is “beyond the authority of the President of the United States.

“Even the President cannot make significant changes to the OCSLA and/or the MLA that Congress did not delegate,” Doughty wrote.

Mike Moncla, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, hailed the decision as “a huge win for domestic energy production in the Gulf of Mexico” and a blow to Biden’s “declared war on the oil and gas industry.”

“Prices at the pump have skyrocketed. Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been depleted. We’ve slowly become less and less energy independent. Now, we can get back to being the energy powerhouse of the world,” he said. “I’m relieved to see that our system of checks and balances saw to it that Biden has way overstepped his authority when banning these lease sales.”

Moncla described Biden’s mission to curb drilling on federal lands and waters as “frustrating” when he elaborated on the case for KLFY.

Moncla noted that oil production has increased at the same time the industry is cutting emissions, and “it’s sad that the government doesn’t see that.”

“I mean there’s no country in the world that’s done more for emissions than the United States,” he said. “We’re cutting emissions while increasing the amount of oil and gas, and other countries can’t say that.”

While Moncla believes the ruling will help the industry make up for declining production in the Gulf of Mexico over the last decade, he told the television station he expects the legal fight to continue.

“I’m not sure we’re quite at a solution yet, you know, this president has been at war against oil and gas since he took over as president,” he said. “He banned them, we had a federal judge say his ban was wrong, he had a federal judge in D.C. overturn that one. We just had a federal judge in New Orleans overturn the D.C. judge, so there’s no telling if he’s going to have another judge overturn this one.

“I mean, this could end up at the Supreme Court one day, we’ll see,” Moncla said.

The August ruling, which applies only to the plaintiff states, followed just 11 days after Biden signed the so-called Inflation Reduction Act into law, which expands oil and gas lease sales off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The law requires the Biden administration to reinstate $192 million in leases for the Gulf of Mexico that were blocked by a different court ruling last year. It also calls for two additional lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska before October 2023, according to The Associated Press.

The new law also ties any future renewable energy leases from wind or solar to a requirement for the Department of Interior to offer oil and gas lease sales for at least 60 million acres of offshore property and 2 million acres of onshore property the year prior.

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