Court ends challenge to 2021 Gulf oil and gas lease sale

Apr 28, 2023, 11:45 AM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A lawsuit by environmentalists seeking to block the 2021 sale of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases auctioned off by the federal government was rejected Friday by a federal appeals court in Washington.

Energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil offered a combined $192 million for drilling rights on federal oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Leases from the sale were issued under provisions of a compromise climate bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act by its supporters, which was signed into law last year by President Joe Biden. The appeals court said Friday that the legislation made the legal challenges moot.

The ruling noted the challenges were based on arguments that the government scheduled the sale without properly following procedures under the National Environmental Protection Act.

“But the leases are now being issued pursuant to the Inflation Reduction Act, so the challenged agency action is no longer the basis for the issuance of the leases,” the ruling from the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia said.

The ruling officially vacated a federal judge’s January 2022 order blocking the sale, and ordered dismissal of the case. “Even if we agreed with the environmental groups that the sale failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the result will be the same: The highest bidders will receive their leases,” the appellate court said.

Friday’s ruling was a victory for the administration and for oil companies that had fought to preserve the sale.

It also highlighted political pressures on the Biden administration, with Biden running for reelection and needing continued support from environmentalists and young voters. The oil and gas industry and Republicans, meanwhile, have accused the administration of not doing enough to enable domestic oil and gas production.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, praised Friday’s ruling, calling it a “positive step toward more certainty and clarity for energy producers.”

The group said it would continue to work with the Department of the Interior to meet its obligation to finalize a five-year program enabling oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Steve Mashuda, an attorney for the environmental group Earth Justice, expressed disappointment with the ruling and criticized the sale.

“This massive industry handout will take a significant toll on Gulf communities and ecosystems and make addressing the climate crisis increasingly challenging,” Mashuda said in an email. “In light of this, it’s even more important for the Biden administration to limit the climate impacts of the Interior Department’s offshore oil and gas leasing program.”

Challenges are still pending to a sale held in March, also under mandates from the climate bill, in which oil and gas companies offered a combined $264 million for Gulf drilling rights.


Associated Press reporter Matthew Brown, in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Police: Person of interest arrested in slaying of Detroit synagogue president

DETROIT (AP) — A person of interest has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Detroit synagogue leader whose death after the start of the Israel-Hamas war prompted speculation the slaying could have been the result of antisemitism. But Police Chief James White has said the attack does not appear to be […]

16 minutes ago

File - Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, takes part in a discussion at the Asia-Pacific Ec...

Associated Press

Google antitrust trial focused on Android app store payments to be handed off to jury to decide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal court jury is poised begin its deliberations in an antitrust trial focused on whether Google’s efforts to profit from its app store for Android smartphones have been illegally gouging consumers and stifling innovation. Before the nine-person jury in San Francisco starts weighing the evidence Monday, the lawyers on the […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Israel battles militants in Gaza’s main cities, with civilians trapped in the fighting

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants in Gaza’s two largest cities on Monday, with civilians still trapped in the fighting even after hundreds of thousands have fled to other parts of the besieged territory. Israel has pledged to keep fighting until it removes Hamas from power, dismantles its military capabilities and […]

7 hours ago

The OnlyFans logo is seen on a computer monitor in this posed photo, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in St....

Associated Press

Teachers have been outed for moonlighting in adult content. Do they have legal recourse?

At a small rural Missouri high school, two English teachers shared a secret: Both were posting adult content on OnlyFans, the subscription-based website known for sexually explicit content. The site and others like it provide an opportunity for those willing to dabble in pornography to earn extra money — sometimes lots of it. The money […]

10 hours ago

A gray wolf is seen in a trail camera image on the Sherman Creek Ranch, March 26, 2023, near Walden...

Associated Press

Embattled wolves gain a new frontier in Democratic Colorado. The move is stoking political tensions

DENVER, Colo. (AP) — Wildlife officials plan to release gray wolves in Colorado in coming weeks, at the behest of urban voters and to the dismay of rural residents who don’t want the predators but have waning influence in the Democratic-led state. The most ambitious wolf reintroduction effort in the U.S. in almost three decades […]

10 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks about investment in rail projects, including high-speed electric ...

Associated Press

Biden heads to Philadelphia for firefighters and fundraising

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will join Philadelphia firefighters on Monday to announce federal funding that will reopen three fire companies, according to the White House. The companies — Engine 6, Ladder 1 and Ladder 11 — were decommissioned during the Great Recession. Union leaders have said the cutbacks hampered the city’s response to […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Court ends challenge to 2021 Gulf oil and gas lease sale