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    US appeals ruling against drilling moratorium


The US federal government was sued by trade groups over its ban on new drilling.

by: Daniel Graeber

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US appeals ruling against drilling moratorium

The US Interior Department said August 16 it was appealing a preliminary ruling against its moratorium on new drilling after trade groups sued over the ban.

US president Joe Biden, whose National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called on OPEC August 11 to open the taps to lower crude prices, enacted a moratorium on new drilling in federal territory. That limits activity in states such as New Mexico, which has an abundance of federal land, but does little to impact operations in states like Texas, which have little to no federal property.

Leases of federal territory offshore, however, make the Outer Continental Shelf a major source of crude oil and natural gas.

Led by the American Petroleum Institute, trade groups on August 16 announced they were suing the federal government, which already had its decision shot down in Louisiana v. Biden in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

The US Interior Department responded later by confirming it was appealing that ruling. The department said that, to date, “the federal oil and gas programmes inadequately account for environmental harms to lands, waters, and other resources, foster speculation by oil and gas companies, and frequently leave impacted communities out of important conversations about how they want the public lands and waters managed.”

The department added that various oversight agencies, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found the Interior Department had not done enough in terms of environmental stewardship.

Nevertheless, the lease programme can continue.

"Federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing will continue as required by the district court while the government’s appeal is pending," it said.