North Dakota Judge Orders DOI to Hold Lease Sale In State
The American people were just dealt a partial win in securing the energy future. A federal judge in North Dakota ruled that the Department of the Interior (DOI) did not have the right to stop North Dakota oil and gas lease sales on public land.
The ruling came from U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Traynor who wrote:
“Based on this cumulative evidence, the Court finds the Federal Defendants instituted an unlawful policy to disregard their statutory duty to appropriately plan for and complete their determination of whether nominated land was “available” and “eligible” on a timely, quarterly basis (the “Stop”) in 2021 and 2022 in North Dakota.” (emphasis added).
A Dakota Based Ruling
While Judge Traynor did order the U.S. government to permit North Dakota public lands oil and gas lease sales to resume, he did not grant the State’s request that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) be compelled to hold the canceled sells from 2021, and 2022. Traynor explained in the ruling,
“[T]he Court finds North Dakota has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits and has met the other factors favoring a preliminary injunction. Given this preliminary stage of litigation and the incomplete administrative record, however, not all of North Dakota’s requested relief is appropriate.” (emphasis added).
Judge Traynor also added:
“[T]he Court is not convinced the Federal Defendants will follow through with this sale given their history related to lease sales noted throughout this Order”
With North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley stating that the BLM cancellations were costing North Dakota over $100 million in revenue, it is imperative that that the federal government uphold their duty.
Much of the decision references the 2021 Louisiana lawsuit, where 13 states challenged Biden’s executive order to “pause new oil and gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending the completion of a comprehensive review of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.” The courts eventually decided that President Biden lacked the authority to override the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), which govern the sale of leases on federal waters and lands.
Joe Biden’s Energy Agenda
The ruling comes after President Biden has continuously pushed anti-energy policies even in a world where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a crude oil shortage that led record gas prices last summer. In fact, in his first 19 months in office, the Biden administration fell far behind on the number of acres under oil-and-gas oil lease. Under him, a measly 0.13 million acres were under oil-and-gas lease. A far cry from Trump’s 4.4 million, Obama’s 7.25, or Reagan’s tremendous 47.58 million.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum makes clear that it shouldn’t take a court order to compel the Biden administration to obey the law or have the Bureau of Land Management fulfill its statutory obligation. He celebrated the ruling, saying in a statement,
“. . . [W]e applaud Judge Traynor’s order which requires BLM to resume their lawfully required quarterly oil and gas lease sales. . . From the beginning, North Dakota has opposed President Biden’s illegal ban on federal oil and gas leasing, and we will continue to fight their misguided attacks on U.S. energy that hurt the global environment by pushing energy supply to countries that don’t produce energy as cleanly as the United States and put our nation’s economy and energy security at risk. For global stability, we should be selling U.S. energy to our friends and allies, not forcing them to buy it from our adversaries.”
Bottomline: Oil and gas leases are critical to not only the people of North Dakota, but every American who relies on affordable and reliable energy to live their lives. The court order has mandated North Dakota lease sales to resume, but it remains to be seen at what pace the Dept. of Interior will comply.