DENVER – Since President Biden banned leasing on public lands in January, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and other officials have repeatedly promised an interim report of the federal oil and natural gas program in “early summer” and “very soon.” Yet today marks the first day of autumn and there is no plan in sight. Western Energy Alliance released the following comment in response to the Interior Department’s continual delay:
“All summer we heard that the report on the ‘comprehensive review’ of the federal oil and natural gas would be out any day,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “There’s been radio silence for several weeks now and the Interior Department still doesn’t have a plan. It was reported on June 17th the report was sent to the White House. (E&E News) More than a month later, Interior Secretary Haaland said her agency was still working on it. Yet another month later and the Interior Department still has made no progress and therefore, the leasing ban has been in vain.
Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming Ask Court to Overturn the Leasing Ban
DENVER – Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) today filed a merits brief ahead of schedule in their Wyoming District Court lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s ban on oil and natural gas leasing. The trade associations filed the briefing ahead of schedule and urged the judge to expedite the proceedings in light of the Department of the Interior’s failure to comply with a Louisiana court ruling overturning the ban and intention not to hold any lease sales in 2021. The State of Wyoming, with its companion case before the court, is expected to file a brief soon as well.
“While the Interior Department ignores one federal court ruling overturning the leasing ban, we’re hoping another ruling will do the trick” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance. “Last week, the government filed a brief clearly stating that no onshore lease sales will be held in 2021. Despite the excuses and hand-waving about complying with the Louisiana order by working on leasing, we agree with Interior Sec. Haaland; the president’s leasing ban is in place until a lease sale occurs. While the plaintiffs in the Louisiana case press the judge to force compliance, we’re applying pressure through the Wyoming court. By speeding up the court schedule, we’ll get to a full decision on the merits sooner rather than later to compel the department to meet its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act. This administration is not above the law. It must comply with laws passed by Congress and orders by the federal judiciary, whether it agrees with them or not.”
DENVER – Western Energy Alliance announced Kim Rodell as the new chair of the board of directors. Rodell is president of Upstream Petroleum Management, a woman-owned small business helping oil and natural gas companies navigate complex regulatory policies and permitting processes. She will serve as the association’s chair until August 2022.
With Rodell’s assumption as chair of the board and Kathleen Sgamma as president since 2016, the top leaders at the Alliance are now women. Previous women who have led the association include Laura Skaer, chair of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (now Western Energy Alliance) from 1991-1992, and Christine Kennedy, chair in 1996. Sgamma is the second woman to serve as president/executive director, and Karyn Plank Grass was executive director from 1990 to 2000. Today, the Alliance’s staff is 60 percent women.
DENVER – Western Energy Alliance today denounced the Department of the Interior’s intention to slow walk onshore lease sales. The Department clearly states in the brief that no sales will be held in 2021. It will only manage to publish a sales notice sometime in December, meaning sales cannot take place until January or February. The Mineral Leasing Act requires quarterly sales. The following is a statement by Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma:
“Announcing yet more analysis of lease parcels without scheduling the actual sales this year complies with neither the letter of the law nor the spirit of the judge’s order overturning the leasing ban. The environmental analysis was already completed for parcels that were ready to go to auction at the beginning of the year before the unlawful leasing ban was announced. There is no need to redo that analysis.
DENVER – Western Energy Alliance today denounced the Department of the Interior’s failure to meet the deadline to hold any onshore oil and natural gas lease sales in fiscal year 2021 and the agency’s continued failure to comply with the Louisiana district court order overturning the leasing ban. Yesterday marked the 45-day deadline for the agency to announce a lease sale before the end of the quarter as required by the Mineral Leasing Act, and hence, to hold any lease sales before the end of the fiscal year which ends September 30th. It also marked 60 days since Judge Terry Doughty in the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction overturning the leasing ban.
“For six months, the Interior Department cited the Biden Ban as the reason for not holding quarterly lease sales. In the two months since the ban was overturned by a federal judge, department officials have ducked questions from lawmakers, media, and industry about when lease sales would resume. Now that the Interior Department has missed the deadline to hold any sales before October, it’s crystal clear there is no intention of complying with the judge’s order,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “At a recent Senate hearing, Interior Sec. Haaland admitted the president’s ‘ban on new leasing is still in place.’ Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has spent the summer lobbying OPEC and Russia to increase oil production. At the same time it’s encouraging foreign oil production, the Biden Administration is preventing American production and helping drive up the price Americans pay at the pump.