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Federal judge rejects Gulf of Mexico oil leasing sale.| Courts
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Federal judge rejects Gulf of Mexico oil leasing sale.| Courts

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has rejected a plan for leasing millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil drilling. The court ruled that the Biden administration failed to adequately consider the lease sale’s impact on planet-warming greenhouse gases emissions. This is a violation of a fundamental environmental law.

The proposed lease sale was sent back to the Interior Department for decision making by U.S. district Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington on Thursday. Interior would decide if the sale should proceed after a revised review, whether it should be scrapped or continued.

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Environmental groups praised the decision and said it gave President Joe Biden an opportunity to fulfill his campaign promise to end offshore leasing in federal waters. The decision was made public on theOne-year anniversary of federal leasing moratoriumBiden ordered the order as part of his efforts against climate change.

We are pleased that Interiors illegal sale of leases was invalidated by the Court, stated Brettny Hardy from Earthjustice, one the environmental groups that challenged it.

This administration must act at this crucial moment and fulfill the campaign promises made by President Biden by ending offshore leasing immediately,” Hardy said. “We simply cannot continue making investments in the fossil fuel industries at the peril of our communitiesand an ever-warming planet.

Deb Haaland spokeswoman, Interior Secretary. She said that the agency was currently reviewing the decision.

Energy companies such as Shell, BP Chevron, ExxonMobil and Chevron include:Offers a total $192 millionfor drilling rights on federal oil & gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, November.

The Interior Department auction was held after lawyers general from Republican state led by Louisiana.Successfully challengedBiden imposed a suspension on sales when he became president.

There were 308 tracts that covered nearly 2,700 acres. It was the largest acreage and second highest bid total since 2017 when Gulf-wide bidding resumed.

Biden attempted to persuade world leaders to strengthen efforts against global warming. The auction was held even though Biden had been trying to convince them, including at United Nations climate negotiations in Scotland in November. Although Biden has taken many actions to combat climate change, Congress has resisted him and a $2 trillion package of social and environmental spending remains stalled. The so-called Build back Better plan includes $550 billion in tax credits and spending that aims to promote clean energy.

Stay informed about the latest happenings in Louisiana’s coast & environment. Register today.

Contreras, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the court, stated that Interior failed to consider the potential greenhouse gas emissions from the lease sale. This violated the National Environmental Policy Act (a fundamental environmental law).

“Breathing full-steam ahead while wearing blinders was simply no reasonable action for BOEM to take here,” he said. He was referring to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The unlikely conclusion of environmental reviews of the lease auction under former President Donald Trump, and confirmed under Biden, was that more oil and gas would be extracted and burned in the Gulf than it would cause to climate-changing emissions.

Federal courts rejected similar claims in two other cases in Alaska after environmentalists challenged them.

Federal officials have since modified their emissions modeling methods, but it is too late to use that approach in November auction.

The National Ocean Industries Association represents the offshore industry and criticized the ruling. They called U.S. oil production critical to reducing inflation, strengthening national security, and promoting U.S. oil & gas production essential.

The U.S. offshore area is essential to American energy security, and continued leases are vital in keeping energy flowing from that strategic national asset,” stated Erik Milito, the group president. He said that Russia and other adversaries would benefit from uncertainty about the future of the U.S. federal off-shore leasing program.

The administration has proposed a second round of oil-and-gas sales in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Officials at the Interior Department agreed to continue despite knowing that burning these fuels could cause future climate damage in the billions.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 25% of U.S. carbon dioxide emission comes from the burning and extraction of fossil fuels from public lands.

Matthew Brown, an Associated Press journalist from Billings, Mont. contributed to this article.

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