North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum recently announced his plans to sue the Biden Administration over their halt on oil and gas leases on public lands, adding that the suspension of leases has already cost state, county, and local government over $100 million in lost revenue. He said that it could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and potentially billions if they don’t get the lawsuit sorted out.
North Dakota is the nation’s second-biggest producer of oil, with its production being 54% responsible for the value of the State’s economy and approximately 76% of the State’s tax revenue. It is currently creating about 55,000 good-paying jobs in the state and generates about $93.65 million in royalties every year.
The state sued the Federal government including the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management. As defendants, it named Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Nada Culver. The director of the Montana-Dakotas Bureau of Land Management John Melhoff was also named as a defendant.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the suspension had prevented leasing auctions during March and June and that he will take action to protect North Dakota’s economy, the jobs of hard-working citizens, and the state’s right to control its own natural resources.
North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer criticized the suspension and said it would do more harm to the state’s economy than good in the aftermath of the pandemic. In addition to calling it a “foolish idea,” Cramer also called it illegal.
“It increases federal and state budget shortfalls, hampers state and private mineral owners’ rights and makes the United States less energy independent and more reliant on foreign producers who are not all good actors, like Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela,” Cramer said.
The lawsuit will seek to reschedule lost oil and gas lease sales, as well as prevent the agency from stopping future sales in the state.
The lawsuit comes after a Louisiana federal judge blocked Biden’s suspension last month and argued that his ruling applies nationwide. AG Steneghem said that he “welcomes and supports” the Louisiana federal district court’s decision and that he looks forward to defending North Dakota’s interest in its natural resources and pressuring the federal government to do the right thing.
TC Energy, the energy firm that owns the Keystone XL pipeline, also announced a lawsuit against the Biden Administration and said they would seek $15 billion in damages. They said that the Biden Administration had breached NAFTA negotiations by blocking the project and suspending its permit on Biden’s first day in office.
The lost revenue supports health, education, and all the basic services in states and it’s going to cost them already on the canceled leases. Studies have shown that these pipelines are not only cost-effective for the country, but a benefit for the environment. Stripping them from the state will raise the cost of fuel in everything we purchase including goods, clothing, housing, and supplies. It will directly affect those on the lower end of the scale, who can’t keep up with Biden’s cost of living.