A Wyoming judge ruled this week that the Biden Administration is within its legal rights to delay some oil gas leases in the state in order to carry out a proper environmental impact review.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl issued a ruling in a case (Western Energy Alliance v. Biden) brought by the State of Wyoming and some oil and gas industry advocates, who claimed the pause on leases violated several federal acts, including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Mineral Leasing Act.
Skavdahl ruled the Department of the Interior had not violated the acts, and its review of the environmental impact of drilling followed the law according to National Environmental Policy Agency guidelines.
“Substantial evidence in record supports [the] decision to postpone the March 2021 lease sales over concerns that the associated environmental assessment did not satisfy recent federal court caselaw that had found similar EAs lacked sufficient NEPA analysis,” Skavdahl wrote in the ruling.
The judge also found the state’s claim that the pause was nationwide was not supported by administrative evidence.
The Biden administration has similar cases in several other states, where judges have not upheld the federal government’s decision to pause the leases, which was announced via executive order in January 2021.
Last month a Louisiana judge issued an opposite ruling, saying the Department of the Interior had violated the law by pausing oil gas leases. “Rather than doing a comprehensive review while the scheduled oil and gas lease sales took place, the secretary ‘put the cart before the horse,’” the judge wrote in the Louisiana opinion.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNBC
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