Judge nixes Biden admin's Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling




  • In Politics
  • 2022-01-28 03:17:23Z
  • By Axios
 

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

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  • Environmental organizations have been upset with an administration they consider too cautious on new restrictions.

Driving the news: U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in D.C. remanded the sale back to the Interior Department for more analysis after finding that the department had "acted arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding foreign consumption from their greenhouse gas emissions."

  • "Barreling full-steam ahead with blinders on was simply not a reasonable action for BOEM to have taken here,'' the Obama-appointed judge said.

What's next: It's unclear how Interior will proceed, and the department on Thursday night simply said it's reviewing the decision.

The big picture: The Biden administration had previously sought to pause new lease sales in federal lands and waters, but a Louisiana federal judge last year thwarted that policy.

What they're saying: Earthjustice, which represented other environmental groups in the case, called it a "pivotal victory in the fight to defend Gulf communities and the planet from the worsening climate crisis."

  • The group said Interior "must start with a blank slate and consider the full environmental costs associated with auctioning off our public waters to the fossil fuel industry."

The other side: API spokesperson Scott Lauermann said in an emailed statement that the company was "reviewing this disappointing decision" and considering its options.

  • "Offshore energy development plays a critical role in strengthening our nation's economy and energy security," Scott Lauermann added.

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