Lease Sales For Onshore Oil & Gas In 2022 Upheld By US Court

Western Energy Alliance won a significant victory in court on March 22, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia went ahead and upheld the first onshore oil and gas lease sales of the Biden administration, which were held in June 2022.

It is well to be noted that Judge Christopher Copper ruled in favor of the Bureau of Land Management’s- BLM greenhouse gas- GHG analysis that went ahead and served as the basis for the sale of 162 leases in Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nevada, as well as Colorado. The Alliance’s intervention in this case so as to support BLM was indeed pivotal, as the judge went on to rely heavily on the trade association’s arguments on the kind of climate change analysis required for lease sales to go ahead.

The President of the Alliance, Kathleen Sgamma, said that after President Biden’s unlawful leasing ban was issued and that too in the first week in office happened to be overturned in court, the first sales got finally held in June 2022. And of course, anti-oil and gas groups, who want absolutely no development anywhere, went ahead and immediately sued.

The legal team argued that the Biden administration’s own interagency working group, which happened to be comprising of every relevant department in the Executive Branch, including the Environmental Protection Agency, was unable to define what level of emissions is significant when it comes to NEPA analyses.

It is indeed illogical to anticipate the BLM, which happens to be the expert agency on land management but not the government’s climate change scientific research agency, going ahead and doing so on its own. The judge went on to rely quite heavily upon the Western Energy Alliance’s expertise in the ruling, thereby citing the legal brief’s arguments when it comes to the social cost of carbon analysis and the dearth of BLM’s authority so as to set a carbon budget.

It is worth noting that oil and natural gas developed on federal lands are some of the most sustainably produced in the world, but they are subject to many more environmental protections than non-federal lands, specifically in comparison to other major producing countries.

If they don’t produce it on federal lands, they have to produce it elsewhere or import it from overseas, where the GHG intensity is pretty high. With the continued dearth of an alternative that does everything that oil and natural gas do, environmental groups such as the plaintiffs they went on to defeat in court continue to advance energy policies that are unrealistic, worse for the environment, and, as a matter of fact, would result in higher levels of GHG emissions.