Since Western Energy Alliance’s first legal victory in 2011 overturning an Obama Administration policy that slowed federal drilling permits, our Legal Defense Fund has been an effective force for protecting your federal assets in the West. From overturning two Obama rules on federal regulation of fracking and waste prevention to a recent victory upholding the record $972 million lease sale in New Mexico, we’ve had our share of successes.
However, no victory comes easily and no setback is final until the full appellate process is complete. While we’ve had some recent adverse rulings in district courts regarding climate change and sage grouse impacts analysis, Western Energy Alliance has preserved a seat at the table for industry and we are confident we can bring those cases to their ultimate successful conclusions in the circuit courts, thereby ensuring valid existing lease rights are protected.
Defending Valid Existing Lease Rights
Our legal work doesn’t just protect nearly every federal lease issued in the Rocky Mountain West since 2015. Your entire federal leasehold is at risk without the work of Western Energy Alliance. Precedents set in current cases we’re intervening in will determine the sanctity of valid existing lease rights and the integrity of the entire federal onshore system.
President-elect Biden has promised to ban leasing and permitting on federal lands. To ban new development on existing leases is to invalidate existing lease rights, an outcome devastating to western state economies with significant federal production, not to mention the operators, thousands of small businesses, and hundreds of thousands of jobs supported by such activities.
Our work in court defending valid existing lease rights is the springboard we’ll use as we oppose whatever form Biden’s federal oil and natural gas ban takes. Whether an outright presidential order or a moratorium to conduct multi-year, full-life-cycle analysis, the legal foundation we’ve set will enable us to effectively counter any executive action.
Ongoing Legal Work
Here’s a partial list of cases we’re involved in.
We challenged the Obama New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) OOOO/OOOOa regulations in 2012 and 2016 on the basis of regulating methane without a proper endangerment finding, as well as several technical issues with the rules. Once environmental groups and certain blue states challenged the Trump OOOOa rule changes, we intervened to protect the technical changes to the rule as well as to uphold the reorientation of the Trump rule to indirect regulation of methane through capture of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
[i] Western Energy Alliance joined forces with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) to successfully litigate the BLM hydraulic fracturing and venting & flaring (waste prevention) rules, with IPAA covering all costs for the former and the Alliance for the latter. Western Energy Alliance alone is defending federal leasing.
- Overturning the federal fracking rule has saved $97,000 on every federal since 2015.
- Preventing the venting and flaring rule from going into effect has saved $110,000 per federal well since 2018.