published on July 8, 2021 - 1:06 PM
Written by Associated Press

(AP) — North Dakota has sued the Biden administration over its suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, saying the move will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

President Joe Biden shut down oil and gas lease sales from the nation’s public lands and waters in his first days in office, citing worries about climate change.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Bismarck claims the move is unlawful. It seeks to force the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reschedule two lease sales that were canceled and block the agency from revoking others in the future.

The lawsuit said the two canceled sales this year have cost the state more than $82 million.

The Bureau of Land Managment declined comment Thursday on the lawsuit.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement that he sued “to protect North Dakota’s economy, the jobs of our hardworking citizens, and North Dakota’s rights to control its own natural resources”
Stenehjem said his office began working on the lawsuit immediately after the lease sales were suspended after Biden took office.

The suspension of the lease sales in North Dakota, the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, could cost the state “billions in the coming months,” Stenehjem said.

“This is a very significant proposition for the state of North Dakota,” Stenehjem said in an interview.

Stenehjem said oil and gas production from leased federal and tribal land in North Dakota generates nearly $94 million in royalty revenue for the state annually.

A judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked Biden’s suspension last month, and said his ruling applies nationwide. But the administration continues to develop plans that could extend the ban or make leases more costly.

Stenehjem said he expects other oil and gas producing states to join the lawsuit.

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