A federal judge has just upended President Joe Biden's attempt to restrict oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bloomberg News reports:
A federal judge ordered the Biden administration to expand next week’s Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale, saying officials appear to have weaponized the Endangered Species Act by yanking 6 million acres off the auction block.
This regards a lawsuit that has been brought against the Biden administration by the State of Louisiana, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the oil companies Chevron and Shell.
The lawsuit follows the Biden administration's placement of multiple restrictions on Lease Sale 261, which will lease millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for the drilling of oil and gas.
Thursday's ruling in the case comes from Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana.
According to Fox News, what Cain specifically did was grant the plaintiffs' preliminary injunction request, thereby blocking the restrictions that Biden's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has placed on Lease Sale 261.
Cain, in his decision, wrote:
The court observes that plaintiffs have demonstrated substantial potential costs resulting from the challenged provisions. While the government defendants largely focus on the acreage withdrawal and dynamics of the sale itself, many of plaintiffs’ alleged hardships arise from the vessel restrictions. Industry plaintiffs have shown a likelihood that these will burden their operations on current and planned leases. The resulting costs would not be undone by the court’s entry of a permanent injunction and order of another sale.
Cain, in his ruling, went on to accuse the Biden administration of weaponizing the Endangered Species Act.
Cain wrote that the Biden administration's actions look "more like a weaponization of the Endangered Species Act than the collaborative, reasoned approach prescribed by the applicable laws and regulations."
Reuters reports that the Biden administration does plan to appeal the ruling.
Per the outlet:
The U.S. Interior Department and groups including the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of appeal with the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just a day after U.S. District Judge James Cain said the Biden administration had to include additional acreage.
It is likely that the appeal will be heard very soon.
This is because, under Cain's order, the Interior Department has to proceed with the lease sale by Sept. 30, which is less than a week away.
It is unclear whether the Biden administration will be able to succeed in its appeal. It is also unclear what Biden's lawyers will argue on appeal.