Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Leases Sale Postponed Over Endangered Rice’s Whale Protections
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The Biden administration has postponed an auction for rights to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, citing legal uncertainty surrounding protections for the endangered Rice’s whale.
The lease sale was originally scheduled for September, but was delayed due to a lawsuit filed by Chevron, Louisiana and the American Petroleum Institute. The lawsuit challenged provisions added to the sale that were aimed at protecting the Rice’s whale, which is one of the most endangered whales in the world.
A federal court initially blocked the provisions, but an appeals court later delayed the lease sale to November 8th. The court then lifted the deadline, which prompted the Biden administration to postpone the sale indefinitely.
The delay has been met with pushback from both the oil industry and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has supported the oil auction. Manchin accused the administration of bypassing important legal requirements in its eagerness to meet the demands of environmental groups. “BOEM is once again blaming the courts for delaying the sale, but the delays are entirely the administration’s fault.” – Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
The Biden administration has defended its decision to postpone the lease sale, arguing that it needs to wait for further court direction in order to ensure that the sale is conducted in a manner that protects the Rice’s whale.
“Until the court rules, BOEM cannot be certain of which areas or stipulations may be included in the sale notice.” – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)