State v. Biden

Decision Date15 June 2021
Docket NumberCASE NO. 2:21-CV-00778
Citation543 F.Supp.3d 388
Parties State of LOUISIANA et al v. Joseph R. BIDEN, Jr. et al
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Daniel Joseph Shapiro, Pro Hac Vice, Tyler R. Green, Pro Hac Vice, Consovoy McCarthy, Salt Lake City, UT, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Louisiana.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Edmund G. LaCour, Jr., Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Montgomery, AL, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Alabama.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Gracie Elizabeth Holden, Pro Hac Vice, Ronald W. Opsahl, Pro Hac Vice, AK Dept. of Law, Anchorage, AK, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Alaska.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Dylan L. Jacobs, Pro Hac Vice, Nicholas Jacob Bronni, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Little Rock, AR, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Arkansas.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Andrew A. Pinson, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Atlanta, GA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Georgia.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, Krissy C. Nobile, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, for State of Mississippi

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, D. John Sauer, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General of MO, Jefferson City, MO, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Missouri.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, David M. S. Dewhirst, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Helena, MT, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Montana.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, James A. Campbell, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Lincoln, NE, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, for State of Nebraska.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, Mithun S. Mansinghani, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Oklahoma City, OK, for State of Oklahoma.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, Judd Edward Stone, II, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Austin, TX, for State of Texas.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, Melissa A. Holyoak, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Salt Lake City, UT, for State of Utah.

Elizabeth Baker Murrill, LA Atty. Generals Office, Benjamin William Wallace, LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, Joseph Scott St. John, LA Dept. of Justice, New Orleans, LA, Lindsay S. See, Pro Hac Vice, Attorney General, Charleston, WV, for State of West Virginia.

Thomas Ports, Jr., U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Div./Criminal Section, Michael Sawyer, U.S. Dept. of Justice Envir. Enforcement Sec., Washington, DC, for Defendants.

Corinne Jacqueline Van Dalen, Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, New Orleans, LA, Christopher D. Eaton, Pro Hac Vice, Earthjustice, Shana Emile, Pro Hac Vice, Seattle, WA, Erik Grafe, Earthjustice, Anchorage, AK, Michael S. Freeman, Pro Hac Vice, Thomas R. Delehanty, Pro Hac Vice, Earthjustice, Denver, CO, for Amici Curiae Healthy Gulf, Center for Biological Diversity, Cook Inletkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, Oceana, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society

Joel R Waltzer, Waltzer Wiygul & Garside, New Orleans, LA, Bradford H. Sewell, Pro Hac Vice, Irene Vibal Gutierrez, Pro Hac Vice, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY, Robert Baxter Wiygul, Law Office of Robert B. Wiygul, Ocean Springs, MS, for Amicus Curiae Natural Resources Defense Council.

Anna St. John, Hamilton Lincoln Law Inst., Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae County of Daggett, County of Rio Blanco, County of Uintah, County of Wayne.

MEMORANDUM RULING

TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The issue before this Court is whether the Plaintiff States1 are entitled to a preliminary injunction against the Government Defendants2 as a result of the implementation of a "pause" of new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters ("Pause") after Executive Order 14008 was signed by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. ("President Biden") on January 27, 2021.

The Plaintiff States alleged the Government Defendants3 violated provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, ("APA") entitling Plaintiff States to a preliminary injunction.

A Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. No. 3] was filed by Plaintiff States on March 31, 2021. An Opposition [Doc. No. 120] was filed by Government Defendants on May 19, 2021. A Reply [Doc. No. 126] was filed by Plaintiff States on May 28, 2021.

Having considered the pleadings, the record, the applicable laws, evidence, and oral arguments of counsel, for the reasons set forth herein, this Court finds Plaintiff States have satisfied the requirements for a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, Plaintiff States' Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

The factual statements made herein should be considered as findings of fact regardless of any heading or lack thereof. Similarly, the legal conclusions should be taken as conclusions of law regardless of any label or lack thereof.

On March 24, 2021, Plaintiff States filed a Complaint [Doc. No. 1] against Government Defendants asking for declaratory and injunctive relief as to Section 208 of Executive Order 14008, which ordered the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and gas leases on public lands, or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review. This allegedly resulted in the halting of new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters in violation of the United States Constitution, the APA, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA"), and the Mineral Leasing Act ("MLA").

The Motion for Preliminary Injunction was filed by Plaintiff States on March 31, 2021. Briefs have been filed by Plaintiff States and by Government Defendants. Amici Curiae briefs were filed by the County of Daggett, County of Rio Blanco, County of Uintah and County of Wayne [Doc. No. 116] and by Center for Biological Diversity, Cook Inletkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, Healthy Gulf, National Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Sierra Club and Wilderness Society [Doc. No. 123]. Per a status conference held on June 3, 2021 [Doc. No. 127], the court set oral arguments on these issues to be heard on June 10, 2021. The oral arguments were heard on that day in Lafayette, Louisiana.

1. Executive Order 14008

On January 27, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 140084 , entitled "Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad." At issue in this proceeding is Section 208 of the Executive Order, which reads as follows:

Sec. 208. Oil and Natural Gas Development on Public Lands and in Offshore Waters. To the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of the Interior shall pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices in light of the Secretary of the Interior's broad stewardship responsibilities over the public lands and in offshore waters, including potential climate and other impacts associated with oil and gas activities on public lands or in offshore waters. The Secretary of the Interior shall complete that review in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Secretary of Energy. In conducting this analysis, and to the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of the Interior shall consider whether to adjust royalties associated with coal, oil, and gas resources extracted from public lands and offshore waters, or take other appropriate action, to account for corresponding climate costs.

Id.

The implementation of Section 208 of Executive Order 14008 by the remaining Government Defendants ("Agency Defendants") is at issue based upon the alleged violation of the APA by the government agencies. 5 USC 551, et seq.

A court may review a Presidential Executive Order. A President's authority to act, as with the exercise of any governmental power, must stem either from an act of Congress, or from the Constitution itself, or a combination of the two. Medellin v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491, 128 S. Ct. 1346, 170 L. Ed. 2d 190 (2008) ; Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 72 S. Ct. 863, 96 L. Ed. 1153 (1952) ; California v. Trump, 379 F. Supp. 3d 928 (N.D. Cal. 2019), aff'd, 963 F.3d 926 (9th Cir. 2020), cert. granted sub nom. Trump v. Sierra Club, ––– U.S. ––––, 141 S. Ct. 618, 208 L. Ed. 2d 227 (2020) ; and Sierra Club v. Trump, 379 F. Supp. 3d 883 (N.D. Cal. 2019), aff'd, 963 F.3d 874 (9th Cir. 2020), cert. granted, ––– U.S. ––––, 141 S. Ct. 618, 208 L. Ed. 2d 227 (2020).

Plaintiff States have based their Motion for...

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4 cases
  • Louisiana v. Biden
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • February 11, 2022
    ...on the challenged rule—even one interim in nature—the rule satisfies the first prong of the finality test." Louisiana v. Biden , 543 F.Supp.3d 388, 408 (W.D. La. 2021).The "interim" SC-GHG Estimates are the final directive from the IWG on how agencies are to conduct their cost-benefit analy......
  • Friends of the Earth v. Haaland
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • January 27, 2022
    ...new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters," including with respect to Lease Sale 257. Louisiana v. Biden , 543 F.Supp.3d 388, 418-19 (W.D. La. 2021). In accordance with that injunction, BOEM moved forward with Lease Sale 257, issuing another Determination of NEPA ......
  • Am. Petroleum Inst. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • April 29, 2022
    ... ... gas lease sales onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf ... (“OCS”)” in response to Section 208 of ... President Biden's Executive Order 14008. Doc. 1, ¶ ... 1-2. The Industry Plaintiffs allege that in doing so, the ... Government Defendants acted in ... ...
  • Am. Petroleum Inst. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • April 18, 2022
    ...herein.[1] Doc. 49. For reasons set forth below, the court finds that this motion should be DENIED. I. Background The first-filed suit, Louisiana v. Biden, was filed this court on March 24, 2021, by a group of thirteen U.S. States (the “Plaintiff States”).[2] Complaint, Louisiana v. Biden, ......
1 books & journal articles
  • PRIVATIZATION, PUBLIC COMMONS, AND THE TAKINGSIFICATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 171 No. 3, March 2023
    • March 1, 2023
    ...was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Louisiana, the administration proceeded with Lease Sale 257. See Louisiana v. Biden, 543 F. Supp. 3d 388, 419 (W.D. La. 2021). Eventually, the sale was fully reinstated in 2022. See infra notes 154-155 and accompanying (154) In January 2022, Lea......

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