One Way to Make the Question Moot

The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case concerning whether the President personally has the authority to suspend new oil- and gas-lease sales. The particular case centers on climate change concerns as the rationale, but the authority is much broader than that, or it’s non-existent.

The State plaintiffs argue that

a 1987 law dictating the ways in which oil and gas leases will be sold stipulates that a sale must be held at least four times annually in states with eligible land. … “…President Biden put his campaign promises above federal law: By executive fiat, he halted oil and gas leasing on federal lands.”

President Joe Biden’s (D) government employee lawyers argue that

the US president is not an “agency” and therefore not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act.

Biden’s argument strikes me as a frivolous quibble, and the States should win, with the Appellate court upholding the district court’s ruling that, in essence, in this sort of context, a President is, too, an “agency,” and so he has no such authority.

The question can be made non-existent in future, though, with a straightforward fix (however politically difficult it might be to enact): at least on Federal property, make oil- and gas-leasing and -permitting a will-issue matter with licensing requirements, including environmental questions and leasing costs, explicitly barred from being used as barriers to leasing and permitting.

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