The U.S. Interior Department could be held in contempt of court if it doesn’t soon comply with a Louisiana federal judge’s order to restart federal oil and gas leasing, according to oil and gas industry attorneys.
The department temporarily suspended quarterly oil and gas leasing nationwide in January while it reviewed the leasing program. However, as Bloomberg Law reports, in the case of Louisiana vs. Biden, Louisiana U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in June issued an injunction keeping the Interior Department from implementing the leasing pause.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said last week that the department is complying with Doughty’s order and will follow the law, but she declined to say how exactly it’s doing so. At this point, if Interior doesn’t conduct a quarterly lease sale soon, “the secretary risks a contempt citation from Judge Doughty,” John Martin, an oil and gas lawyer and Wyoming-based partner at Holland & Hart LLP, tells Bloomberg Law.
Meanwhile, the department’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees onshore oil and gas leasing, is actively issuing drilling permits on existing leases nationwide. The pause applies only to new leases. Read the full story from Bloomberg Law.