A federal appeals court in New Orleans will hear arguments Tuesday on the legality of President Biden suspending new oil- and gas-lease sales over climate change concerns.
Biden ordered the suspension shortly after taking office, and though the case has not yet been tried, a federal judge blocked the order saying that only Congress has the power to suspend sales.
Lawyers for the administration argue that the government, broadly, has the power to hold, cancel, or delay lease sales.
Government attorneys are arguing that the judge – U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe, Louisiana – does not have the authority to pause the order because the U.S. president is not an "agency" and therefore not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act.
The legal teams representing Louisiana and 12 additional states argue that a 1987 law dictating the ways in which oil and gas leases will be sold stipulates that a sale must be held at least four times annually in states with eligible land.
The brief, led by Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill, reads, "With the stroke of a pen just a week after he took his oath of office, President Biden put his campaign promises above federal law: By executive fiat, he halted oil and gas leasing on federal lands."
Joining Louisiana in the matter are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Following the judge's ruling, four onshore lease sales have been scheduled for next months. However, the administration did scale back the amount of land originally being offered, and upped the royalty rate from 12.5% to 18.75%.
The president is currently under pressure to increase the amount of domestic oil and gas produced as Americans continue to feel financial pressure at the pump because of spiking fuel prices.