U.S. Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Expansion of Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Sale
Posted 27/10/2023 14:24
In a recent development, a U.S. appeals court has issued a temporary pause on a federal judge's order, which mandated the Biden administration to expand an offshore oil and gas auction in the Gulf of Mexico by an additional 6 million acres (2.4 million hectares). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit decided to stay the September ruling pending an appeal, with oral arguments scheduled for November 13 in New Orleans, as stated in a court document.
The legal dispute revolves around the federal protection of an endangered species of whale and the challenges associated with offshore drilling. The oil and gas industry, along with the state of Louisiana, filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department in August, contesting its decision to curtail the auction to minimize potential conflicts with the habitat of the endangered Rice's whale.
The ongoing case highlights the complexities faced by the Biden administration as it endeavors to strike a balance between national energy security and environmental preservation. Originally slated for last month, the Gulf of Mexico sale was postponed to incorporate the additional acreage and revised sale terms, as directed by a lower court judge. The sale was subsequently rescheduled for November 8, and it remains uncertain how the recent court order will impact the revised timing.
While the Interior Department refrained from immediate comment on the ruling, the American Petroleum Institute, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed its commitment to upholding the interests of American energy workers and the Gulf Coast economy, emphasizing the importance of ensuring U.S. energy security. Earthjustice, representing four environmental groups, asserted its dedication to advocating for the protection of the critically endangered Rice's whale, emphasizing the need to implement fundamental measures to prevent harm to the species.