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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Federal Judge Annuls Massive Gulf Of Mexico Lease Sale

  • Federal judge: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management broke the environmental law
  • Plaintiffs, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth, praised the ruling
  • The tender brought in $192 million in winning bids for 307 tracts covering 1.7 million acres

A federal judge threw out the biggest oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico on the grounds that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management broke the environmental law—the National Environmental Policy Act—by failing to properly factor in the emission-related impact of the lease sale.

Ruling on a case brought against the Department of the Interior, the American Petroleum Institute, and the state of Louisiana, District Judge Rudolph Contreras sent the lease sale back to the Interior Department to decide what to do with it.

Plaintiffs, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth, praised the ruling.

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“We are pleased that the court invalidated Interior’s illegal lease sale,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Brettny Hardy, as quoted by the AP. “This administration must meet this critical moment and honor the campaign promises President Biden made by stopping offshore leasing once and for all.”

The Gulf of Mexico lease sale, which sought to open up millions of acres in the Gulf, was launched last November despite efforts by the Biden administration to steer the U.S. energy industry towards renewables and away from oil and gas.

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President Biden imposed a moratorium on drilling leases for federal lands as soon as he took office, but oil-producing states successfully challenged the moratorium in court, and the Interior Department was forced to proceed with the lease sale.

The tender brought in $192 million in winning bids for 307 tracts covering 1.7 million acres. The interest around the sale was significant in part due to the low carbon footprint of the crude extracted from these waters, compared to the higher footprint of foreign plays or U.S. onshore wells.

“Barreling full-steam ahead with blinders on was simply not a reasonable action for BOEM to have taken here,″ Judge Contreras said in his opinion.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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