Published on June 16, 2021, by The RF Angle, here
The Biden Administration suffered another significant court defeat on Tuesday evening when a Federal District Court granted a motion for preliminary injunction, preventing the Administration from ‘pausing’ oil and gas development on public lands by executive order, at least until the case comes to a final resolution.
On January 27, just a week after taking office, President Biden signed an executive order preventing any new oil and gas leases on public lands. The purpose of the order was ostensibly to protect the environment although many critics argue that it’s nothing more than a political stunt. Among those critics is Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who joined with 12 other Republican Attorneys General to sue the Biden Administration over the executive order in March.
The plaintiffs argue that Biden’s executive order is unconstitutional in that it directly violates two acts of Congress, namely the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act. It is additionally argued that the executive order places U.S. national interests in jeopardy by making the nation more dependent on foreign oil, thus thwarting Congress’ intent to achieve American energy independence with that legislation.
The case is being heard by Judge Terry Doughty, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, who issued the injunction Tuesday night. This order does not amount to a final resolution of the case; it merely pauses the Administration from enforcing its executive order until the case is resolved. However, it does bode well for the Republican coalition. In granting injunctions like this, the court typically requires the moving party (the party(s) seeking the injunction) to demonstrate two points: 1.) That their case is likely to succeed on the merits, and 2.) that irreparable harm will occur if the injunction is not granted. In granting the injunction, Judge Doughty is implicitly affirming both of these points.
When asked by the Daily Caller News Foundation about the injunction, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said, “This is a victory not only for the rule of law, but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans… We appreciate that federal courts have recognized President Biden is completely outside his authority in his attempt to shut down oil and gas leases on federal lands.”
The Biden Administration will have an opportunity to appeal this decision, but if they choose to do so they will have to win over the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is comprised of 17 active judges, five Democrat appointees and 12 Republican appointees (six from President Trump). Given the makeup of that court and the flagrant constitutional overreach of the executive order itself, their likelihood of success on appeal is minimal. A final disposition of the case is expected later this year.