Energy & Environment

Judge sides with Biden in narrow ruling over oil lease pause in Wyoming

A federal judge sided with the Biden administration in a case related to its oil and gas leasing pause in Wyoming.

However, because of another case, the government still appears to be barred from continuing its leasing pause in several other states.

At the start of his tenure, President Biden temporarily paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. This pause prevented new rights to drill for the fuels on federal lands from being auctioned off. 

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, ruled Friday that the Biden administration was within its rights to postpone lease sales in Wyoming during the first quarter of 2021. 

He wrote that there was “substantial evidence” to support the Interior Department’s move to put off lease sales that had been slated for March 2021 over concerns about the adequacy of their underlying environmental reviews. 

Wyoming filed its suit after the March lease sales were postponed, but before other postponements. Skavdahl also ruled that Wyoming did not have the right to challenge any postponements that occurred after its suit was filed. 

But, in most states, the Biden administration still appears to be barred from pausing new oil and gas leasing. 

Last month, Trump appointee District Judge Terry Doughty ruled in favor of 13 states that had challenged the oil and gas leasing pause. 

He determined that the law requires the government to sell oil and gas leases, and therefore, the Biden administration must auction more acres for drilling. 

Tags Joe Biden oil and gas leasing oil and gas leasing on public land Scott Skavdahl Terry Doughty Wyoming

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