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.”
“The Biden Administration’s failure to comply with Judge Doughty’s order to resume leasing on federal lands represents an immediate blow to the funding of public education in Wyoming,” said Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “By proceeding directly to the merits of our case we believe we can compel the federal government to uphold its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act. In short, the Biden Administration must do more than say it will follow the law, it must follow the law in practice.”
The Alliance filed suit the same day President Biden signed the Executive Order on Climate Change that banned federal leasing. PAW joined the suit shortly thereafter. The Interior Department still has not issued a plan on how it will conduct the comprehensive review of the federal oil and natural gas program as directed in that order. For the last six months the leasing ban has been completely futile, as no progress has been made on the supposed reason for the ban in the first place.
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