BILLINGS — A group of companies involved in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas are is challenging President Biden's executive order that would stop future land leases for those businesses.
The Western Energy Alliance (WEA) filed a complaint against the Biden Administration in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Wednesday. The suit names the President, Acting Interior Secretary Scott De La Vega and the Bureau of Land Management.
The alliance represents 200 companies.
In its filing, the WEA states the suspension of the oil and gas leasing program is "an unsupported and unnecessary action that is inconsistent with the Secretary's statutory obligations."
Attorneys further state "because the suspension is both arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law, the Court should find the suspension invalid and set aside the challenged government action."
According to the alliance, the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 requires the Bureau of Land Management to hold lease sales.
"The mineral leasing act is very clear that each state where there's interest, the Bureau of Land Management shall hold quarterly sales," said alliance president Kathleen Sgamma. "So it's just not something that the President can do. This is not supposed to affect current leases, but a company may have a project and as they do more exploratory work, they determine that we need to acquire some acreage nearby. If some of that acreage is federal, then their project would be stymied. They wouldn't be able to go forward with that project."
In his order, Biden states, to the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of Interior shall pause new leases, pending a comprehensive review and reconsideration.