US Postpones Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Auction Due to Litigation

Credit: james_pintar/AdobeStock
Credit: james_pintar/AdobeStock

The Biden administration on Thursday postponed a Nov. 8 sale of offshore drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico pending the outcome of a lawsuit over oil and gas development and federal protection of an endangered species of whale.

The move comes after a U.S. appeals court on Oct. 26 temporarily paused a lower court order requiring the Interior Department's U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to expand the auction, which was originally scheduled to be held in September.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 13 in New Orleans.

"Until the court rules, BOEM cannot be certain of which areas or stipulations may be included in the sale notice," the bureau said in a statement. 

The oil and gas industry and the state of Louisiana had sued the Interior Department in August over its decision to scale back the auction to reduce conflicts with Rice's whale habitat.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), an oil industry trade group that is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, criticized the postponement.

"The Department of the Interior continues to demonstrate its willingness to ignore the clear and growing need to expand American energy leadership and reduce reliance on foreign energy sources," Holly Hopkins, vice president of upstream policy at API, said in a statement.

(Reuters - Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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