Department of Interior Files Court Brief Outlining Next Steps in Leasing Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States has appealed a preliminary injunction entered by the district court in Louisiana v. Biden, which enjoined the Department of the Interior from implementing a pause in new federal oil and gas leasing. The federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing program will continue as required by the district court while the government’s appeal is pending.

As required by the court, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a brief advising the district court of the steps taken by the Interior Department to comply with the preliminary injunction, including next steps in the offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing processes. Accordingly, the government advised the district court of the following schedule demonstrating compliance with the district court’s injunction:

  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will submit the Record of Decision for Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico to the Federal Register by the end of August. The sale notice for Lease Sale 257 is expected to be published in September. By law, the lease sale may not take place sooner than 30 days after publication of the sale notice. This fall, BOEM also will issue and take comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement analyzing Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet.
  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices will post for scoping parcels included in Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 2021 leasing deferrals by the end of August. Following a 30-day scoping period and taking into account comments received, the BLM will undertake environmental reviews of parcels for potential leasing. Following this review, state offices will identify any eligible parcels and applicable stipulations in lease sale notices posted later this year.

In complying with the district court’s injunction, the Interior Department will continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under law to conduct leasing in a manner that fulfills Interior’s legal responsibilities, including to take into account the programs’ documented deficiencies.

The Interior Department continues to review the programs’ noted shortcomings, including completing a report. The Department also will undertake a programmatic analysis to address what changes in the Department’s programs may be necessary to meet the President’s targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.