Energy & Environment

Biden administration won’t appeal invalidation of offshore oil leases

The Biden administration on Monday declined to appeal a January court decision that invalidated oil and gas leases it sold last year. 

In a new court filing, the administration said it would not appeal the ruling. The decision was not a surprise, since the administration has argued that it was compelled to sell the leases in the first place by a different court order. 

Other parties, namely the state of Louisiana and oil and gas lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute, have indicated that they would appeal. But they won’t have the federal government behind them. 

In its new filing, the Biden administration also argued that if the decision to vacate the leases sold in Lease Sale 257 is reversed, it had wide discretion on whether to dole out the leases that would enable companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“Interior agrees with the other parties that, in the event this Court reverses the district court’s vacatur, the expiration of the five year program on June 30, 2022, does not prevent Interior from awarding leases pursuant to Lease Sale 257 after that date—although, as discussed herein … Interior has the authority to decline to award the leases at that juncture,” it said in the filing. 

In November, Interior held the sale, and companies purchased the rights to drill on up to 1.7 million acres in the Gulf. 

In January, Judge Rudolph Contreras vacated the sale, saying that Trump-era calculations behind it “arbitrarily” excluded the impacts the sale would have on foreign energy consumption when calculating its greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Interior Department has indicated that it would like to make changes to the current system, including through higher fees on companies and greater efforts to account for climate change impacts. 

Tags biden administration Interior Department Offshore oil drilling oil leases

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