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.
Joe Biden shut down oil and gas lease sales from the nation’s public lands and waters in his first days in office, citing the need to combat climate change, which he has called the “existential crisis of our time”.
At the time the US president unveiled an ambitious new pledge to slash US planet-heating emissions in half by the end of the decade.
The North Dakota lawsuit filed on Wednesday in federal court in Bismarck claims the suspension is unlawful. It seeks to force the US Bureau of Land Management to reschedule two lease sales that were canceled in the state 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 $82m.
North Dakota’s 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 by Biden.
The suspension of the lease sales in North Dakota, the nation’s second highest 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.
Oil and gas production from leased federal and tribal land in the state generates nearly $94m in royalty revenue annually, he said.
The Bureau of Land Management declined to comment.
Last month, a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked Biden’s suspension and said his ruling applied nationwide. However, the administration continues to develop plans that could extend the ban or make leases more costly.
In May Wyoming passed a new state law that created a $1.2m fund to be used by the state governor to sue other states that opt for renewable energy over Wyoming’s coal.