DENVER – Today, Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of the Interior’s failure to hold oil and natural gas lease sales in the third quarter of 2022 as required under the Mineral Leasing Act. The associations filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming along with the State of Wyoming.
“The Mineral Leasing Act is clear: the Interior Secretary must hold at least quarterly lease sales in every state where there is interest, as reflected by nominations,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “Oil and natural gas companies have nominated millions of acres in Wyoming and across the West that have yet to be offered for sale. Not only has this administration held only one set of lease sales in its first two years, but has now signaled that there will be no sales until second quarter 2023, a full year later. Once a year does not equal ‘quarterly.’ Further, just before Thanksgiving the Interior Department released seven new policies that make it more difficult to lease and produce on public lands. The announcement came just days before the Administration gave the green light to Venezuelan development. Rather than buttressing up dictators, President Biden could tell his agencies to back off increasing red tape meant to suppress American production so that we can do more to reduce high energy prices for the country and the world.”
“The federal government owns more surface and minerals in Wyoming than every other owner combined. This level of federal control over a State’s activities and economic health requires an Administration that is not only professional and efficient, but willing to follow the law in the first place,” said Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “Wyoming’s oil and gas operators must have a pipeline of new leases to continue to explore and develop our world-class resources. One lease sale a year does not cut it, and unfortunately court intervention appears to be the only recourse in forcing the Biden Administration to respect rule of law."
The Alliance and PAW challenged President Biden’s leasing ban issued in Executive Order 14008 on climate change. In September, the District Court of Wyoming issued a ruling focused narrowly on just the facts surrounding the canceled first quarter 2021 sales. The associations did not appeal but are rather challenging Interior’s general failure to hold the required quarterly lease sales. They will be represented by L. Poe Leggette, Mark S. Barron, and Alexander K. Obrecht of BakerHostetler.
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