14 GOP state attorneys general sue Biden administration over oil and gas leasing moratorium

Jeff Landry, Louisiana attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Fourteen states filed suit on Wednesday against President Joe Biden‘s moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters.

A coalition of 13 states, led by Louisiana, filed one lawsuit on Wednesday. Wyoming filed a separate lawsuit. The states in Louisiana’s suit include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. All 14 states have Republican attorneys general.

“This moratorium might make for a nice headline about fighting climate change, but the real consequences of the action are far from certain and far from uniformly environmentally friendly,” the Wyoming lawsuit said. 

Biden’s order on Jan. 27 to pause new leasing was part of a series of executive actions to address climate change and transition the economy away from fossil fuel production and towards clean energy.

In a statement Wednesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry called Biden’s order an “aggressive, reckless abuse of Presidential power.”

Biden also directed the secretary of the Interior Department to begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development and ordered the federal government to conserve 30% of public lands and water by 2030.

The suits also come as the Biden administration prepares to unveil its proposal for overhauling the nation’s infrastructure, which is expected to include an ambitious set of climate-related proposals.

The Louisiana lawsuit argued that the president’s executive order would hurt communities dependent on oil and gas drilling and drive up energy prices. The lawsuit also requested the Bureau of Land Management be allowed to restart quarterly oil and gas lease sales.

The Interior Department declined to comment on the lawsuits.

The oil and gas leasing moratorium would not end fossil fuel extraction since the industry still holds undeveloped leases.

Drilling on federal lands contributes to roughly a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and generates billions of dollars in revenue.