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Western Energy Alliance challenges Biden order pausing new oil, gas leasing on public land

"The law is clear. Presidents don't have authority to ban leasing on public lands," Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma said in a statement.

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President Biden on January 27, 2021
President Biden on January 27, 2021
(Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)
Updated: January 27, 2021 - 7:27pm

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The Biden administration's move to order a pause in new oil and natural gas leases on public land as well as offshore is already facing legal pushback.

The Western Energy Alliance announced that it has lodged a lawsuit over the administration's action. 

"The law is clear. Presidents don't have authority to ban leasing on public lands," Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma said in a statement. "All Americans own the oil and natural gas beneath public lands, and Congress has directed them to be responsibly developed on their behalf. Drying up new leasing puts future development as well as existing projects at risk. President Biden cannot simply ignore laws in effect for over half a century. Biden's ban is an overreach meant to satisfy the environmental left, but it would seriously harm the livelihoods of tens of thousands of westerners and put at risk millions more as state services become unfunded."

According to the White House: "The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030."