Federal judge nullifies America’s largest oil and gas lease sale, canceling 1.7 million acres of drilling leases in Gulf

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square

A U.S. District Court judge has invalidated the largest offshore oil-and-gas lease sale in the nation’s history, canceling 1.7 million acres of drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Judge Rudolph Contreras, a President Barack Obama nominee, ruled the Biden administration did not properly take into account greenhouse gas emissions when it approved the $192 million sale of drilling rights on federal oil-and-gas reserves last November, violating the National Environmental Policy Act.

Energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil won the bid for 308 tracts, totaling nearly 2,700 square miles, but Contreras’ 68-page ruling Thursday found the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) did not thoroughly review how drilling would impact climate change.

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“This administration must meet this critical moment and honor the campaign promises President Biden made by stopping offshore leasing once and for all,” Earthjustice Senior Attorney Brettny Hardy said. “Interior should use its next 5-year leasing plan to protect our coastal communities and public waters and offer no new offshore leases.”

“Barreling full-steam ahead with blinders on was simply not a reasonable action for BOEM to have taken here,” Contreras said, according to The Associated Press.

Environmental reviews during the Trump and Biden administrations found “that extracting and burning more oil and gas from the Gulf would result in fewer climate-changing emissions than leaving it,” the news wire reported.

Biden attempted to suspend sales of oil-and-gas leases when he took office, but Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry led a successful challenge to overturn the policy. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a President Donald Trump nominee, ordered in June that plans continue for the lease sales in the Gulf, Alaskan waters and all onshore properties.

Landry led the lawsuit that involved attorney generals in 12 other states.

Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Mike Moncla stressed how the decision will affect consumers in the state and beyond.

“Judge Contreras’ decision to ‘throw out’ the last lease sale is disappointing for industry, but even a bigger blow to the American consumer,” Moncla said. “This administration continues to make decisions that increase energy costs on Americans. In just one year in office, President Biden’s energy policies (or lack thereof) have more than doubled oil, natural gas and gasoline prices.

“LOGA will continue to fight for actual policy that puts Americans to work while also providing affordable, reliable, and abundant energy to our nation.”

Earthjustice, the law firm that sued the Secretary of Interior and BOEM in August on behalf of several environmental groups, applauded Contreras’ ruling Thursday.

“We are pleased that the court invalidated Interior’s illegal lease sale,” Earthjustice Senior Attorney Brettny Hardy said. “We simply cannot continue to make investments in the fossil fuel industry to the peril of our communities and increasingly warming planet. This administration must meet this critical moment and honor the campaign promises President Biden made by stopping offshore leasing once and for all. Interior should use its next 5-year leasing plan to protect our coastal communities and public waters and offer no new offshore leases. We can no longer afford to do anything less.”

The National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito pointed to the ruling’s impact on inflation and national security.

“The U.S. offshore region is vital to American energy security and continued leases are essential to keeping energy flowing from this strategic national asset,” he said, according to The AP.

Milito contends “uncertainty around the future of the U.S. federal offshore leasing program” will only benefit Russia and other U.S. adversaries.

A spokesperson for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told The AP the agency is reviewing Contreras’ decision. Contreras said the department must conduct a revised review before deciding whether to go forward with the sale.

13 thoughts on “Federal judge nullifies America’s largest oil and gas lease sale, canceling 1.7 million acres of drilling leases in Gulf

  1. Vermont government has to stop restricting and controlling free enterprise and thereby restricting options and choices for the
    Citizenry. Vermont does not have a “ global warming “problem . It has a green energy business problem that wants to restrict our freedom to choose. The GWSA has to go away !

  2. RE bureaucrats are making the same mistakes as Washington RE bureaucrats

    The only beneficiaries are multi-billion companies that supply the wind and solar systems, and Utilities, which would sell oodles more high-priced electricity due to “electrify everything”. Everyone else gets screwed, while “fighting” climate change, a la Don-Quixote tilting at wind mills.

    Historically, the EU has imported very minor quantity of LNG, because the prices are about 25 – 30% higher than pipeline gas bought from Russia under long-term contracts; that will always be the case, due to differences of technology

    Brussels EU environmentalist bureaucrats have urged EU countries NOT to sign long-term gas supply contracts with Russia, because it would set the wrong example regarding “weaning the EU off fossil fuels”. Just google, if you find this incredible.

    As a result of EU bureaucrat lunatic decisions, EU spot prices for gas have become “volatile”, i.e., about 5 to 10 times long-term prices, because Russia reliably provides gas ONLY under signed long-term contracts. This was known by Brussels, prior to its idiotic decisions.

    If the EU gas, imported from Russia, would be converted to LNG, there would need to be a 40% increase in worldwide LNG carrier loads, as shown by elementary calculations.

    Assume an average LNG carrier capacity at 170,000 m3, equivalent to 76,500 metric ton
    Russian gas supply to the EU is about 200 billion m3/y
    Additional LNG carrier loads would be 1,903/y, or 38 carrier loads/week, if Russian pipeline gas were replaced with LNG. See table
    At present, Europe lacks the capacity to receive and gasify that many carrier loads.

    In 2020, world LNG demand was 360 million metric ton, equivalent to 4,706 carrier loads. See URL
    There would need to be an enormous, worldwide increase in LNG carrier loads of about (4706 + 1903)/4706 = 40.4%, if Russian gas to the EU were interrupted.

    That would be a gigantic, additional strain on the world’s LNG system, which would send spot prices to unprecedented levels for many years.

    NOTE: At present, there is a significant shortage of large-capacity LNG carriers


  3. This should really help fuel prices and food prices and every thing else using petroleum…
    without China and India on board shutting down carbon base fuels completely would accomplish
    zip. FJB and his greenweenies… get some leadership back in DC and our oil independence back..

    • The Future of Renewable Energy and Materials

      Having 100% renewable electricity, based on wind, solar, pumped-hydro storage, and/or battery storage and grid expansion/augmentation is relatively easy.

      The major question remains, not just in El Hierro, but all over the world,

      1) How would the other 100 – 23 = 77% of primary energy, be provided by renewable energy sources?
      2) What materials would be used to make millions of products, including wind turbine systems and solar systems, etc., currently embodying fossil-based materials, such as plastics, fiberglass, etc.


      • Government “ineptitude” is present all over, not just in the Mexican Gulf.

        Here is an article of EU-bureaucrats subsidizing a VERY EXPENSIVE, Rube Goldberg, electrical system for an island, which turned out to be totally inadequate.

        It was called a RENEWABLES SUCCESS

        Some insider locals became multi-millionaires.

        The islanders did not know they had an electrical system problem!!!

        With enough subsidies and Media rah-rah, any dubious project gets financed and built




        From about 1700 to about 1980, common-sense-sanity prevailed in Vermont.

        After 1980, sanity became in short supply, due to out-of-state folks taking over the Legislature

        They brought with them socialistic/communistic tendencies

        They wanted to have centralized command/control over Vermont’s government to realize THEIR fantisies.

        They tell Vermonters to “wear a useless (per CDC) blue rag, or black rag, to fight COVID”

        They want to tell Vermonters how to live, to fight the climate.

        Fighting the SUN?

        They are socializing/mismanaging the Vermont economy, a la Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., while running up huge debts in the process.

        If is were not for federal bailouts, Vermont would be “sooooo up the creek without a paddle”

        • Willem…….Speaking of government ineptitude, consider the recent performance of our elected officials in Montpelier who failed to listen and were repeatedly proven wrong:

          1. Shumlin’s single payer program abetted by the legislature…..Wasted years and more than $200 million and produced nothing. Shumlin and the legislature had been repeatedly told that the single payer system would not work……The warnings were ignored……Vermont was government wrong.

          2. The corrupt, incompetent and embarrassing operation of the EB-5 program…….The end of which we have yet to hear. Vermont government was wrong.

          3. The $5 billion State pension and health care system debacle…..Montpelier has been warned for years and failed to address the problem…Covid dollars falling out of the sky may help bail them out…..But Vermont government has be wrong in handling the pension problem

          The next disaster to come out of Montpelier is the Climate Plan…..A plan that is full of problems unanswered questions and undefined costs that have all been repeatedly pointed out to those in Montpelier. These warnings have been ignored……Vermont government will be wrong again.

          Sadly Montpelier has been repeatedly wrong on major undertakings and they have learned little and continue to repeat big mistakes at the expense of Vermont tax payers…….This is ineptitude.

          • The Vermont Government is 98% of out of staters who moved here to take over Vermont and make it into the sh-t hole state they came from. They don’t care about Vermonters, they consider us as hicks, know nothing. They don’t listen to us. It’s their way or you can just leave the state. I think THEY should LEAVE and never come back.!!!

  4. Comrades,

    Once enough elderly Vermonters freeze to death do to the fact, they can no longer afford to heat their homes, there will be less opposition to our imposing our will.

    • Because we are importing the fuel and outlawing wood heat because supposedly we Vermonters who cut our own wood and have cows that fart are the biggest pollutors of all. You can thank the Greenwashing Prossie Crew for making it illegal to have a wood stove without a penalty attached. No profit to be made when you have a woodstove – just the wood cutter whose winter job when the farm is dozing is harvesting wood.
      Yeah…lets prostitute ourselves to Big Energy, and have to bend over and take it when the prices skyrocket by manipulative wall street predators urged on by boards whose greed knows no bounds.
      While you and I get kettled into a corner where the wood stove is no longer in the house, the chimney is boarded up, and the electricity is out, and the fuel is too expensive to buy.
      And you can’t stay warm.
      That sounds like a sound plan.
      Lets do that.
      Oh wait. We’re already being held hostage by the Great Green Rip Off.
      I will never ask permission to stay warm.

  5. Please explain how America is going to “save the world” from climate change….eveerything your doing is creating more carbon footprints in other countries…..do you realy think theres a wall around America to protect the environment? Do you think all these PRIVATE space shutte rides leave no carbon footprint??? Why are these no banned???
    Perhaps we should study the past climate changes this world has gone through.

    • Lynn we are not going to save the world from Climate Change..
      Dumb people are going to believe that we are doing that as they vote away our freedom chasing their carrot on the stick.

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