A federal judge blocked the lease sale of land in the Gulf of Mexico that was to be used for oil and gas drilling.

Background: The U.S. Department of Interior previously made millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico available for oil and gas drilling.

According to court papers, federal officials held the lease sale on Nov. 17th but had not yet allowed the leases to go into effect.

President Biden began reviewing the federal oil-and-gas leasing program at the beginning of his term triggering several court challenges which then led Interior Department officials to conclude that they had to sell the oil-and-gas leases.

Details: The sale would have marked the largest offshore oil-and-gas lease sale in U.S. history.

According to court papers, Chevron Corp. was identified as the highest bidder.

What Happened: Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C invalidated the sale of nearly 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico the U.S. Department of Interior had made available for oil and gas drilling. Judge Contreas said that regulators used flawed environmental analysis.

Judge Contreras called the federal agency’s error in its environmental-impact determination “a serious failing” in his decision to block the sale.

What Environmental Groups Say: Environmental groups sued over the lease sale in August, saying the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management failed to properly consider the environmental impacts of its decision to open up federal lands for oil-and-gas leases under the National Environmental Policy Act. (per The Wall Street Journal)

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