(The Center Square) – A Wyoming oil and gas trade group has joined a lawsuit against the Biden administration challenging its moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases on federal land.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW), the state's largest trade group for the industry, joined the Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based trade group, in an amended petition on Wednesday.
The Alliance first filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming on Jan. 27, the same day President Joe Biden signed an executive order suspending new oil and gas leases on federal land as part of several executive actions he took aimed at tackling climate change and prioritizing green energy.
PAW joined the petition after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees energy and mineral development on federal land, this week didn’t hold its quarterly lease sale.
The Alliance alleges the agency violated the Mineral Leasing Act by not holding its lease sale for March. PAW also estimates that Wyoming could lose $9.5 million in revenue from the canceled lease sale, according to a news release.
“While many have tried to spin President Biden’s Executive Order as harmless, that narrative is simply false,” PAW President Pete Obermueller said in a statement. “On average, Wyoming schools could have expected $4 million from this week’s lease sale – enough money to educate 220 Wyoming school children for an entire year. We join this lawsuit to show that the president’s leasing ban has resulted in real harm to Wyoming and those consequences will continue if this ill-advised EO is not overturned.”
The petition called the lease moratorium “both arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law.”
“The Court should find the suspension invalid and set aside the challenged government action,” it added.
A publicly funded report by the Wyoming Energy Authority estimated that a federal lease moratorium would be a $639.7 billion hit to gross domestic product (GDP) in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, California, and Alaska by 2040.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon is among 17 Republican governors who sent a letter to President Biden last month asking him to rescind an executive order.
Wyoming and 20 other states are also suing the administration to overturn its cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline project.