Once again, our Attorney General is on the wrong side of history in his steadfast support of the oil and gas industry.
Thirteen states sued the Biden administration Wednesday to end a suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water and to reschedule canceled sales of leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska waters and western states. The Republican-leaning states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, seek a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change on Jan. 27. The suit specifically seeks an order that the government go ahead with a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that had been scheduled for March 17 until it was canceled; and a lease sale that had been planned for this year in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.AP News
The President did not stop oil production but paused the sales to revisit the issue. Car makers have pledged to go to hybrid and all electric cars and the use of oil is dropping. Do we need more wells, especially when some leased areas are not active. The states say their livelihood and finances are based on oil and so this is an undue burden.
At a news conference, Landry accused the Biden administration of “effectively banning oil and gas activity that supports businesses, employees our workers and, also, as importantly, funds our coastal restoration projects.” Although Landry and the lawsuit’s supporters said the moratorium has already driven up prices and endangered energy jobs, Biden’s suspension doesn’t stop companies from drilling on existing leases. But a long-term halt to oil and gas sales would curb future production and could hurt states like Louisiana that are heavily dependent on the industry.
The President has cited the number of leases not under production noting that there are years of drilling if they were to be used.
Biden’s team has argued that companies still have plenty of undeveloped leases — almost 14 million acres (6 million hectares) in western states and more than 9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) offshore. Companies also have about 7,700 unused drilling permits — enough for years. “This will not affect oil and gas production or jobs for years to come,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the lawsuit’s claims at a Wednesday briefing. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, is urging the White House to reconsider the moratorium, but he also pointed to the stockpiled undeveloped leases to suggest the economic threat isn’t imminent. He said the Biden administration has started to issue permits for those stockpiled leases. “Just as you’re starting to have the communications get you to a point where you’re feeling better about things and the permits are being issued probably isn’t the best time to file litigation,” Edwards said.
There is a definite change in the past administration and the current one. The government is looking to many issues with science and economic lenses. Oil, though, is fighting a rear-guard action.