Federal judge blocks Biden's bans on leases for drilling for oil and gas on public lands

The administration said they would comply with the order, meaning lease sales to drill are likely to resume.

Updated: June 16, 2021 - 8:39am

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A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked President Biden's temporary ban on new leases to drill for oil and gas on public lands, setting back his efforts on climate change.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday blocking the administration from enforcing its ban. The judge's order applies nationwide.

"Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake," Doughty wrote in a 44-page memorandum accompanying the injunction, according to NBC News. "Local government funding, jobs for Plaintiff State workers, and funds for the restoration of Louisiana’s Coastline are at stake. Plaintiff states have a reliance interest in the proceeds derived from offshore and on land oil and gas lease sales."

In January, Biden's Interior Department paused new leases of land to review if it should allow oil and gas drilling on federal lands to continue.

Lease sales allow for individuals or corporations to bid on land owned by the federal government, which would allow the bidder to drill for oil and gas without competition on that land for a ten-year period. The order signals that lease sales for drilling in Louisiana and Alaska will likely resume.

An Interior Department spokesperson responded to the injunction saying, "We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and will comply with the decision." The spokesperson also said the administration would keep reviewing whether to continue to allow the drilling to "build a just and equitable energy future."