The American Petroleum Institute (API), U.S. supermajor Chevron, and the state of Louisiana are suing the Biden Administration after the federal government reduced the area to be offered in the next Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale by 9% to safeguard the habitat of a rare whale species.
The adjustment, which will see the Department of the Interior auction 67 million acres in the next lease sale instead of 73.4 million acres, followed a legal settlement with environmentalists regarding the whale habitat.
The latest terms of the next oil and gas lease sale will be with significantly reduced acreage and severe restrictions on oil and natural gas vessel traffic, say the claimants in the challenge filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
“Today we’re taking steps to challenge the Department of the Interior’s unjustified actions to further restrict American energy access in the Gulf of Mexico,” API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers said in a statement on Thursday.
“Despite Congress’ clear intention in the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration has announced a ‘lease sale in name only’ that removes approximately 6 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico from the sale and adds new and unjustified restrictions on oil and natural gas vessels operating in this area, ignoring all other vessel traffic.”
API’s Meyers concluded, “Together with the State of Louisiana and Chevron U.S.A. Inc., we intend to use every legal tool at our disposal to challenge these actions.”
On Wednesday, responding to the reduced area for the lease sale, API Vice President of Upstream Policy, Holly Hopkins, said,
“While the Department of the Interior announced a much-needed offshore lease sale today, the Biden administration continues to throw up roadblock after roadblock to American energy production, prioritizing their campaign promise to stop American oil and natural gas development in federal waters over their duty to meet Americans’ energy needs.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com