Biden Will Delay Oil, Gas Leasing While Appealing Legal Ruling

( )- There will be no new federal gas and oil leases issued by the Biden administration after a court ruled against the federal process by which the social cost of climate change is calculated.

On Saturday, the Biden administration announced it would be suspending or delaying any of the new leases for the time being.

A few weeks ago, Judge James Cain, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump to the Western District of Louisiana, effectively blocked the method that the Biden administration was using to calculate the so-called “social costs” of climate change — primarily, the effect of greenhouses gases.

Since taking the White House in early 2021, President Joe Biden returned the country to calculation methods that were first adopted under the Obama administration. The Biden administration did say it had plans to develop methods of its own at some point.

Cain’s ruling, though, blocked all federal agencies from considering findings from the Interagency Working Group of the White House. That group was tasked with coming up with new social cost metrics that were based in the initial calculations that the Obama administration created.

The ruling also effectively bans the White House from considering the impact greenhouse gas emissions have on the globe. That was one of the major differences between the calculation methods used by the Obama and Trump administrations, and was why those under former President Barack Obama were much higher.

The Department of Justice filed an objection to that ruling over the weekend. They formally asked the court to stay the injunction, saying they believed their official appeal of that ruling would likely be successful.

In the filing, the DOJ wrote:

“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 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.”

While the appeal is being filed, the DOJ wrote that “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.”

In his ruling, Cain essentially agreed with the 10 Republican-led states that filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration that “the balance of the inquiries” when the costs were considered “weighs substantially in favor” of the plaintiffs.

He said the calculation “directly causes harm” to the plaintiffs’ economies. The judge further wrote:

“The … estimates artificially increase the cost estimates of lease sales, which in effect, reduces the number of parcels being leased, resulting in the States receiving less in bonus bids, ground rents, and production royalties.”

That being said, the Biden administration will still halt all leases for the time being. As Melissa Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Department of Interior, said in a statement over the weekend:

“The Interior Department has assessed program components that incorporate the interim guidance on social cost of carbon analysis from the Interagency Working Group, and delays are expected in permitting and leasing for the oil and gas programs.”