A federal appeals court has allowed the Biden administration to continue its moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on government-owned lands.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday threw out a lower court's order that would have stopped the administration's moratorium, according to court documents.
The court's decision vacated the Louisiana district court's decision to block the Interior Department's leasing pause after Louisiana and a dozen other states filed a lawsuit against the administration.
The states argued that they would suffer injury from the policy, legal documents said.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court determined that the District Court for the Western District of Louisiana's directive does not specifically outline what the administration is and is not permitted to do.
The appeals court returned the case to the Louisiana district court to address the procedural problem before the case can proceed.
"We cannot reach the merits of the Government's challenge when we cannot ascertain from the record what conduct — an unwritten agency policy, a written policy outside of the Executive Order, or the Executive Order itself — is enjoined," the three-judge panel wrote.
"Our review of (Administrative Procedure Act) claims must begin by determining if there was final agency action. Where, as here, it is unclear what final agency action the district court predicated its order upon, we are unable to reach the merits of the appeal."
In April, the Biden administration announced it would resume leasing sales for oil and gas drilling on federal land, while also sharply reducing the acreage available for leases, and charging higher royalties on the oil and gas produced.
At the time, the Biden administration felt external pressure to address high gas prices in the U.S.
In January 2021, his first week in office, Biden suspended all drilling on new oil and gas leases. He stated that the suspension should be implemented "pending completion of a study and reconsideration of oil and gas permitting and leasing practices," according to the presidential order.
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