It’s been a couple of terms since the White House has had a southerner as its primary residence, but that doesn’t mean the land of trucks and rednecks is pulling any punches. It’s almost cliche to run into an oilfield man from Texas or Louisiana and while we all like to poke a little fun at the lifestyle that the oil industry has prompted, there’s a certain appreciation that rednecks and roughnecks deserve.
Anyone who understands how the economy and energy intersect understands that the terrible jobs many oilfield workers do are just the start of how much is owed to those in oil and gas. It’s not all fat men with trophy wives chomping big cigars (though that too is time-honored). Putting every economic concern for workers aside, Americans have to have oil for transportation, electricity (yes, even green energy) as well as the majority of things that we touch in a day as citizens of a modern world.
That, plus the trying idea of being solely dependent on other nations for our oil and gas, is likely what was circling in the head of a Louisiana Federal Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on Tuesday when he put a block on the Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leasing for public lands and waters.
Essentially, the current administration made a point to block the progress of obtaining oil under public lands as part of their climate change initiative, and the judge stepped in and said that the move was illegal.
The order handed down on Tuesday of this week granted a preliminary injunction to Louisiana and 12 other states who are being sued by the Democratic President and the Interior Department.
“Biden paused the government’s leasing auctions in January pending a review that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks,” Reuters reported. “The move was part of a sweeping plan to rein in fossil-fuel extraction and combat the effects of climate change.”
Unfortunately, even that injunction might not be enough to get the wheels of oil production greased, thanks to bureaucratic latitude. Reuters reported that while the Interior Department said that they would comply with the ruling, they just didn’t say when they would comply by allowing auctions to resume.
The American Petroleum Institute, which is the nation’s top oil and gas trade group, issued a statement urging the administration “to move expeditiously to follow the court’s order and lift the federal leasing pause.”
The judge’s decision applies to both onshore and offshore leasing nationwide and remains in effect until there is a final decision made by higher courts, according to the official filing. In his ruling, Doughty said that “Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” going on to say that states had a “substantial likelihood of success” with their lawsuit.
The states joining Louisiana’s lawsuit were Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. All have Republican attorneys general. Wyoming has filed its own lawsuit challenging the leasing pause.
A spokesperson for the Interior Department said that the agency’s upcoming report “will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.”
While the administration is in a tizzy, the boots on the ground, including the attorneys general of both Louisiana and West Virginia praised the decision with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry calling the decision “a victory not only for the rule of law but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans.”