API challenges Biden administration’s 5-year OCS lease program in court

Feb. 13, 2024
The American Petroleum Institute filed suit Feb. 12 in the US District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, challenging the Biden administration’s 2024-2029 Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas leasing program.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed suit Feb. 12 in the US District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, challenging the Biden administration’s 2024-2029 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and natural gas leasing program.

The US Interior Department unveiled its latest 5-year lease program in December 2023. The plan proposed just three federal offshore oil and gas lease sales – one each in 2025, 2027, and 2029 – the lowest number of sales in the program’s history and the bare minimum to continue to hold offshore wind lease sales. Congress added the provision conditioning future wind leasing on future oil and gas leasing in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act.

“Demand for affordable, reliable energy is only growing, yet this administration has used every tool at its disposal to restrict access to vast energy resources in federal waters,” API senior vice-president and general counsel Ryan Meyers said in a statement.

“In issuing a 5-year program with the fewest lease sales in history, the administration is limiting access in a region responsible for generating among the lowest carbon-intensive barrels in the world, putting American consumers at greater risk of relying on foreign sources for our future energy needs,” Meyers said. “Today, we are taking action to challenge this shortsighted program so that future generations of Americans will continue to benefit from our energy advantage for decades to come.” 

The petition, API vs. Department of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, asks the court to review the agency’s record of decision and approval, calling it “arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law.”

The Interior Department has prepared and maintained the 5-year offshore leasing program for 45 years, API said, noting that it released its latest proposal “nearly 500 days late.” API also said 2024 would mark the first year since 1966 without a federal Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale.

Federal offshore production from the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 15% of total US crude oil production and 2% of total US dry natural gas production.