Judge Slams Biden Admin's 'Political' Move To Restrict Gas Drilling

Unused oil rigs sit in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana August 11, 2010. (Reuters)
September 22, 2023

A federal judge rejected and criticized a move by the Biden administration to restrict oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, calling it a "political" move and ordering the government to remove the restrictions.

Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana on Thursday blocked the proposed restrictions by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and ordered Lease Sale 261 to happen by Sep. 30. He called it an attempt to "provide scientific justification to a political reassessment of offshore drilling."

BOEM had ordered the lease sale be decreased by six million acres, from 73 million acres to 67 million acres, and imposed new restrictions on the vessels that could collect oil and gas, citing the interest of protecting endangered whales. The Biden administration will appeal the judge's order.

Cain said the Biden administration's plan was "more like a weaponization of the Endangered Species Act than the collaborative, reasoned approach prescribed by the applicable laws and regulations."

"The court observes that plaintiffs have demonstrated substantial potential costs resulting from the challenged provisions," Cain said in his decision. "While the government defendants largely focus on the acreage withdrawal and dynamics of the sale itself, many of plaintiffs’ alleged hardships arise from the vessel restrictions."

Published under: Energy