Judge cites climate crisis to invalidate Biden administration's oil and gas leases

Climate groups celebrated the decision.

Updated: January 27, 2022 - 10:01pm

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A federal judge sided with environmental groups on Thursday by invalidating the Biden Administration's leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

D.C. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, an Obama appointee, wrote in a 68-page ruling that the federal government did not climate change into account when the leases were sold in November 2021. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management '''entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem' that it had itself identified… and, even upon acknowledging the error, determined that it could continue to rely on the implausible conclusion that the lease sale would decrease greenhouse gas emissions," Contreas writes. 

Earthjustice, which represented environmental groups in the lawsuit, celebrated the decision. The organization accused the Biden administration of using "a flawed environmental assessment to justify holding an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf."

"We simply cannot continue to make investments in the fossil fuel industry to the peril of our communities and increasingly warming planet," Earthjustice senior attorney Brettny Hardy said. "This administration must meet this critical moment and honor the promises it made by stopping offshore leasing once and for all."

A spokesperson for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told CNN that the department was reviewing the judge's decision.