Wyo sues Biden administration over federal oil and gas leasing ban

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, N.M., in September. The state stands to lose royalties and revenue from a Biden Administration pause on new oil and gas leases. (Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Getty Images)
A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, N.M., in September. Similar to Wyoming, the state stands to loose royalties and revenue from a Biden Administration pause on new oil and gas leases. (Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Getty Images)

The State of Wyoming has filed a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office announced Wednesday.

The lawsuit asserts that the suspension of oil and gas sales from federal lands and waters, required under executive order 14008 and executed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, is invalid under federal law.

“Following a careful review of not only the President’s Executive Order, but its practical effect, it is necessary for Wyoming to protect its citizens and challenge the Secretary’s action,” Gordon said. “Not only is this federal action overreaching, it was implemented without public input as required under federal law.”

The suit was filed in the Federal District Court of Wyoming and asserts that the Administration’s action violates legislation including the National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedure Act, Mineral Leasing Act, and Federal Land Policy Management Act, per the release.

It asks the court to set aside the Secretary’s action and require the Bureau of Land Management to resume quarterly oil and gas lease sales, which have been suspended since the order was signed in late January.

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Gordon stressed that the Biden’s ban on oil and gas leasing will not meet the climate goals of the Administration, the release stated, as production will simply shift to other countries with less stringent emissions standards.

“The world will continue to need and use oil and gas for the foreseeable future,” Gordon said. “The question is whether it will be produced under the environmental safeguards in place on federal lands in Wyoming, or overseas without equally stringent regulations.”

The economic effects of the ban to the state of Wyoming are “devastating,” per the release. A recent economic study indicated that thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of state revenue will be lost as a result.

Gordon said he anticipates that other states will consider intervening after Wyoming’s action is filed.

Read a copy of the suit here.