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Federal judge halts Biden’s oil and gas lease moratorium

(The Center Square) – A federal judge in Louisiana has halted the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases for federal lands.

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The Tuesday decision marks a setback for President Joe Biden’s aggressive agenda to curb climate change by focusing on green energy and overturn the former Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks.

Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction in the case, stating the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is “restrained from implementing the Pause of new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters.” 

Biden signed the order halting new oil and gas leases on Jan. 27, pledging that his administration would “reset” the federal program.  

“We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and will comply with the decision,” a DOI spokesperson told The Center Square in an email. “The Interior Department continues to work on an interim report that will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.”

Thirteen states, led by Louisiana, sued the administration in March over the order, arguing it violated federal law. 

“This is a victory not only for the rule of law, but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement.

“The President’s Executive Order abandons middle-class jobs, cripples our economy, and hits everyday Americans where it hurts the most – their pocketbooks,” he continued. “What’s more: it attacks Louisiana’s coast by reducing the revenue and royalties used for coastal restoration and hurricane protection.” 

Louisiana is joined in the lawsuit by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. 

The Biden administration is also facing lawsuits over the order from Wyoming, as well as industry groups.

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