District judge’s ruling vacated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history
Hicks Thomas LLP has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calling on the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C. to reverse a January 27 ruling that blocked an oil and gas lease sale of more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico on the grounds that the leases violate the National Environmental Policy Act.
Filed in partnership with the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, the brief argues that the district court’s ruling — that the U.S. Department of Interior must quantify resulting “foreign emissions” — is premature since lease sales alone will generate no such emissions. Nor will such quantification meaningfully assist Interior or meaningfully inform the public.
"The preliminary activities authorized by Lease Sale 257 extract no oil or gas, meaning that they themselves will generate no non-local emissions," the filing argues. "Congress designed [the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act's] four-stage framework to forestall premature litigation about environmental effects.”
The brief also cites the “disruptive consequences” of vacating the lease sales to the financial well-being of the successful bidders and Gulf states, as well as the overall negative impact on the U.S. economy and national energy security. “Vacatur would disrupt the mineral development in federal waters that drives growth, creates jobs, reduces consumer costs, and funds state budgets.” Vacatur would also disrupt the very development that “furthers America’s energy security” by making the nation less dependent on foreign oil.
“The invasion of Ukraine in the spring of 2022 has given energy security — ensuring that domestic supply keeps up with demand — a concrete and dramatic importance,” said Hicks Thomas LLP partner Eric Grant. “But domestic supply cannot keep up if Interior is prevented from even beginning the process of opening up 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration and development.”
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