WASHINGTON – This week’s judge’s decision on invalidate The largest offshore oil and gas lease in the nation’s history, on Friday, analysts said, citing the government’s failure to consider the issue of climate change. results, showing that management decisions that don’t take global warming into account are increasingly vulnerable to regulatory challenges.
Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the Biden administration acted “arbitrarily and erratically” in conducting an auction of more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. The Home Office did not fully analyze the climate impacts of the oil and gas burning that would be developed from the leases, the judge said.
The ruling is one of several over the past year in which a court has asked the government to conduct a closer study of the impacts of climate change before approving fossil fuel development. Overall, the decisions will ensure that future administrations can no longer downplay or downplay global warming, analysts say.
“This was not true 10 years ago for climate analysis,” said Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University. He said it was “a huge victory” that the courts forced government agencies to include “a very robust and comprehensive analysis of the climate” as part of the decision-making process when it comes to climate change. whether to drill on public lands and waters.
Emissions from fossil fuel extraction on public lands and in federal waters account for approximately 25 percent the country’s greenhouse gases.
Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil have offered $192 million for the rights to exploit approximately 1.7 million acres in the area the government laid out in the November 17 lease. has not been released.
Judge Contreras said the government had relied on an outdated and flawed analysis from the Trump administration, arguing that failure to keep a lease would lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions because oil companies overseas will increase their output to fill the gap in the market.
He called relying on that analysis a “serious failure” and ordered a new study under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which says the government must consider the biological damage. when deciding whether to permit drilling and construction projects.
The judge reached the same conclusion as the judges of both the United States Court of Appeals for 9th Street and the District Court for the District of Alaska in cases within the past two years involving rental-based sales. on a similar analysis.
“This is further setting an established precedent that NEPA requires a greenhouse gas analysis,” said Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Foundation. “This only further shows the damage we are doing by allowing federal leasing to continue.”
Keith Hall, director of the energy law center at Louisiana State University, cautions that having to address the effects of climate change doesn’t necessarily mean fossil fuel development will come to a standstill.
A future administration could show the full impact of climate change in a rental decision and still legally decide that the economic benefits outweigh the climate risks.
“A more fossil fuel-friendly administration is still possible,” Mr. Hall said. “Weighing the pros and cons is ultimately a policy decision.”
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The Biden administration is currently in the dilemma of deciding whether to appeal the ruling.
As a candidate, Mr. Biden promised to stop issuing new leases for drilling on public lands and federal waters. Shortly after taking office, Mr signed an executive order to suspend the issuance of new leases. But after Republican attorneys general from 13 states sued, a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the order, and also ruled that the government must organize rental sales in the Bay Area that the government doesn’t allow. Trump scheduled it in advance.
The Biden administration went ahead with the sale in November, despite arguments by environmentalists that the Interior Department could do more to halt or reduce the size of the rental sale.
In a statement, Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said the agency was reviewing the decision.
“We have documented serious deficiencies in the federal oil and gas program,” said Ms. Schwartz. “Especially in the face of the climate crisis, we need time to implement reforms that are substantial and long overdue.”
Analysts said they expect the Biden administration to let the ruling uphold.
“They didn’t have to shed a lot of tears because it was a big Trump-made rental that they wanted to put on hold,” Mr Lazarus said.
That opens the question of whether the oil companies that bought the leases, the trade groups that represent them, or the Republican states suing the Biden administration’s effort to block the new leases, whether appeal or not.
Mr. Hall said he believes they can do it.
“The defendants were affected enough that they could appeal,” he said.
In a statement, Louisiana’s attorney general, Elizabeth Murrill, said the state is “considering potential legal remedies” over the court’s decision.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/climate/climate-oil-drilling-gulf-mexico.html Assessing growing needs Climate analysis in drilling decisions