Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today that the new ruling from Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana blocking the Department of the Interior from pausing oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters is simultaneously wrong on the legal merits and a sign of why federal leasing laws need to be updated to remove any possibility of future misinterpretations.
“Republicans tempted to crow about today’s ruling should explain why they didn’t say a word after President Trump delayed these same lease sales as recently as last August,” Grijalva said. “We need to update our fossil fuel leasing laws across the board to establish a cleaner, more sustainable standard of use for our public resources, as this Committee is already seeking to do. Our economic and environmental future shouldn’t be subject to rulings based on industry-funded science or opportunistic complaints that we didn’t hear until President Biden was sworn into office.”
Judge Doughty, a Trump appointee, based his ruling (see page 10) in part on the views of Timothy Considine at the University of Wyoming, the author of an industry-funded report on the purported economic impacts of the leasing pause. The unreliability of that report was addressed directly by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, at a May 19 hearing titled Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars and Corporate Welfare in the Oil and Gas Industry.
The Trump administration postponed multiple Bureau of Land Management lease sales last year because of the pandemic and low oil prices. Neither Republicans in Congress nor state officials in Utah or Mississippi – two plaintiff states in the case at issue today – offered criticism at the time despite having scheduled lease sales delayed within their boundaries.
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