Interior to Resume Lease Sales During Appeal

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The Biden administration on Monday challenged a federal judge's decision in June to block the Interior Department's pause on oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and waters, but will proceed with leasing during the appeals process. Interior seeks to overturn the decision of Judge Terry Doughty of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, who said Louisiana and a dozen states that sued President Joe Biden's administration established they would suffer injury from the pause on new oil and gas leases (OD Jun.15'21). Those states last week sought a court order from the judge to force Interior to hold an offshore lease sale this year. And on Monday, the American Petroleum Institute and 11 other industry groups sued the administration to force them to reinstate lease sales, which had not resumed after the judge's June decision. Interior said it will proceed with new oil and gas leasing "consistent with the district court’s injunction during the appeal" and will use "discretion provided under the law to conduct leasing in a manner that takes into account the program’s many deficiencies." The agency said it will address the leasing program's shortcomings through several steps, including completing a report outlining reform recommendations. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said earlier this year that the highly anticipated report would be released in the “early summer,” but it has not yet been published (OD Jun.23'21). (Reuters)

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