Judge Permanently Bans Biden Hire Stops in States That Have Sued – The Hill

A Louisiana judge issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration’s decision to freeze new oil and gas leases on federal lands Thursday night, a day after another court issued an earlier injunction against him.

In Thursday’s ruling, Trump-appointed Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana’s Western District permanently blocked the January 2021 order in 13 states that sued the order last March. The states involved are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. It does not apply to any state that is not involved in the lawsuit.

In his ruling, Doughty ruled that the order violated the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), saying he had taken steps intended for Congress.

Both laws require agencies of government defendants to sell oil and gas leases. OCSLA has a five-year plan in effect that requires the sale of eligible leases. “Government defendants’ agencies have no authority to make significant revisions to the OCSLA Five-Year Plan without going through procedures mandated by Congress,” Doughty wrote.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Act requires [Interior Department] For lease sales, where eligible land is available on lease every three months. By stopping this process, the agencies are in effect amending two fundamental laws of Congress. Neither the OCSLA nor the Anti-Money Laundering Act gives agencies of government defendants the authority to enforce moratoriums on rental sales.”

On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an earlier injunction by Doughty, returning it to the Western District to clear the matter.

“We cannot access the benefits of a government appeal when we cannot ascertain the record of conduct—unwritten agency policy, written policy outside the executive order, or the executive order itself,” the appeals court wrote.

Biden’s original order forbade new federal oil and gas leases on federal lands while allowing existing leases as well as leases on private lands to continue. Although the order called for a temporary moratorium to allow a Home Office review of federal leases and permits, the administration has continued to defend the order in court since the review was completed. More rental sales, including one by the end of the year, are required under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law earlier this week.

Hill has reached out to the Home Office for comment.

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