The Biden administration will suspend new federal oil and gas leasing following a court ruling.
Background: At the beginning of his term, President Biden reverted to Obama-era methods for oil and gas leasing by which it calculates the social cost of climate change.
On February 11, Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana blocked the administration’s method of calculating the social costs associated with greenhouse gases.
Judge Cain blocked federal agencies from considering findings from the White House Interagency Working Group, which had been tasked with devising new metrics based on the Obama-era calculations. It also bars the administration from considering the global impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, one of the major distinctions that made the Obama estimates far higher than the Trump administration’s.
Cain issued the ruling in response to a lawsuit from 10 GOP-led states, agreeing that “the balance of the injuries” from considering those costs “weighs substantially in favor” of those states, saying it “directly causes harm” to their economies. (per The Hill)
What Happened: On Saturday, the Justice Department asked the court to stay the injunction, arguing that its appeal of the decision will succeed.
“From President Nixon on, every President has imposed some internal Executive Branch requirement for federal agencies to assess the costs and benefits of major government actions,” the filing states. “The injunction further calls into question the authority of the past three Administrations to provide standardized guidance to agencies on appropriate methods of estimating the social cost of greenhouse-gas emissions.”
What Comes Next: In the meantime, “work surrounding public-facing rules, grants, leases, permits and other projects has been delayed or stopped altogether so that agencies can assess whether and how they can proceed,” the filing states.