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Governor John Bel Edwards, the Democrat at the helm of Louisiana, has urged the federal government to resume oil and gas leases within months, the Associated Press reports, quoting the governor as saying that a longer pause in offshore leasing will devastate the Gulf Coast state’s economy.
“I’m a governor of an energy producing state but also a state that’s on the front lines of climate crisis,” Gov Edwards told the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The Department of the Interior said last month it would cancel all oil and gas lease sales on public lands until the end of the second quarter of the year.
“Based on our ongoing review, the Bureau of Land Management is exercising its discretion to not hold lease sales in the 2nd quarter of Calendar Year 2021. This decision does not impact existing operations or permits for valid, existing leases, which continue to be reviewed and approved,” the Bureau said.
The decision follows another from January when the Department of the Interior curbed the issuance of new permits for oil and gas exploration in tune with President Biden’s order to suspend all offshore lease sales. The DoI did not ban the issuance of leases as such but greatly limited the number of employees who could approve them.
Since then, lawsuits by Continental Resources and others have ensued, claiming that the new restrictions are unlawful since it prevents the DoI from ruling on permitting applications in the timeframe allotted in the Mineral Leasing Act.
Yet, according to the head of the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University, Biden’s January order also effectively suspended the approval of changes to drilling plans and permits, the AP noted in its report.
“If you got a lease three or four years ago and submit a drilling plan, you’re not going to get that processed,” David Dismukes said, as quoted by the news agency.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com