By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A lawsuit filed in Wyoming to reverse a ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands will continue despite the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s announcement it will resume leasing in 2022, according to a spokesman for the state’s oil and gas industry.
Ryan McConnaughey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming told Cowboy State Daily the BLM continues to move slowly in issuing leases on federal land for energy development.
“In reality, the only reason the administration is doing this is because they have a court order and they were in danger of being held in contempt of court,” McConnaughey said. “We have no doubts they will continue to stall leasing on federal lands, so we believe our lawsuit should move forward.”
The PAW and Western Energy Alliance have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne to overturn the ban imposed on oil and gas leases on federal land by President Joe Biden in his first few days in office. The lawsuit argues the BLM did not follow the rules of the federal Mineral Leasing Act in stopping the leases.
A similar lawsuit filed in Louisiana resulted in a judge’s ruling that the federal government did not follow the rules of the act. The judge also issued an order for mineral leasing to resume nationally.
The BLM recently announced it will allow the lease sales for parcels offered for lease in the first and second quarter of 2021 to proceed in early 2022.
However, McConnaughey said the announcement does not address the lease sales that should have been held in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.
“At this point, at this rate, we’ll still be two quarters behind what they should be doing in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act,” he said.
The BLM’s announcement came shortly after the PAW and WEA filed a request with the federal court asking the judge in the case to expedite proceedings so the merits of their lawsuit can be argued.
“By proceeding directly to the merits of our case, we believe we can compel the federal government to uphold its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act,” PAW President Pete Obermueller said in a statement.