December 2, 2022 |

Governor Mark Gordon has filed a second lawsuit against the Biden White House over the decision to “pause” oil and gas lease sales required under federal law.

After Biden took over the White House in 2021, the Bureau of Land Management went 18 months without a single oil and gas lease sale. The agency has yet to resume regularly scheduled quarterly lease sales.

The 31-page lawsuit filed in Wyoming District Court focuses on the cancelled sales that should have occurred in the second and third quarters of 2021 and the third quarter of 2022.

Wyoming claims in the legal filing that the cancellations were “arbitrary, capricious an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.” The lawsuit asks the court to rule that Secretary of Interior violated two federal laws, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Mineral Leasing Act.

The state charges Secretary of Interior Deb Halland has adopted an unwritten policy of pausing the leasing sale contrary to her legal obligation.

The legal filing goes into great length detailing federal law and notes that Secretary Haland has not offered any written explanation in the form of a secretarial order, a notice in the federal register or instruction memorandum for her actions. Furthermore, the secretary did no provide a public explanation for which statutory authorities authorize the new unwritten policy that breaks with longstanding agency tradition.

Governor Gordon said in a statement announcing the lawsuit that “This litigation is timely and vital to the interests of Wyoming citizens. Beyond that, Wyoming’s energy resources can help power the nation and bring down costs at the pump. BLM’s decision to cancel lease sales sure seems to be a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law.”

The governor added that he believes that the pause in oil and gas lease sales “was politically driven and not based in law or fact.”

The state lost its first court battle over the pause. The United States District Court for the District of Wyoming found that the Secretary’s decision to cancel the First Quarter 2021 lease sale was lawful, but did not consider whether the Secretary’s other cancellations violated the law.

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