Judge tosses Biden admin Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale after challenge from environmentalists
The judge ruled the administration based its decision on a flawed climate analysis
A federal judge threw out a massive offshore oil and gas lease sale after it was challenged by environmental groups, ruling that the Biden administration violated federal law when it relied on "arbitrary and capricious" climate change impact model.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled Thursday that Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management based its decision to go through with the sale on a climate analysis completed during the Trump administration, which found that not the acreage in the Gulf of Mexico would lead to more greenhouse gas emission from foreign oil companies.
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"The Court believes that [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s] error was indeed a serious failing," Contreras wrote, according to the Washington Post.
The ruling comes after President Biden issued a temporary pause on all new oil and gas lease sales last year, a move that was struck down by a Louisiana judge, which the administration claimed forced them to go through with what would have been the largest offshore lease sale in U.S. history.
Environmental organizations challenged the sale of 1.7 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, which sold at auction for $192 million in March 2019.
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"We’re confident that once they do the emissions modeling right, given the climate crisis that we’re in, they will reach the decision that leasing doesn’t make sense right now," Brettny Hardy, an attorney for the environmental law firm Earthjustice, told the Washington Post.
But the decision was not well received by the American Petroleum Institute, with spokesman Scott Lauermann calling the ruling "disappointing" while imploring the administration to "defend responsible U.S. offshore production and to take the necessary steps to ensure continued leasing and energy production from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, for the benefit of all Americans."