A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday froze the Biden administration’s pause on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
The order granted a preliminary injunction to Louisiana and 12 other states that sued President Joe Biden and the Department of Interior over the pause.
Biden in January signed an executive order putting a hold on new oil and gas leasing auctions pending a review of the program. During his election campaign, he pledged to end new federal leasing as part of a sweeping plan to address climate change.
The ruling will remain in effect pending the final resolution of the case or orders from higher courts, according to a court document.
In the ruling, Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said the states had met the requirements to establish that they would suffer injury from the pause on new oil and gas leases.
“Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” Doughty wrote.
He also said the states have a “substantial likelihood of success” with their lawsuit.
In a statement, an Interior Department spokesperson said the agency would comply with the decision.
“The Interior Department continues to work on an interim report that will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future,” the department said.
The states joining Louisiana’s lawsuit included Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.