Prelim injunction filed in Wyoming's leasing lawsuit

WYOMING – Gov. Mark Gordon announced on Tuesday that Wyoming’s filed a preliminary injunction against Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, BLM acting director Nada Culver and state BLM acting director Kim Liebhauser regarding the federal oil and gas leasing moratorium.

Filed March 24, the lawsuit argues that President Joe Biden’s Executive Order pausing oil and gas leasing on federal lands violates four different existing federal laws.

In the filing, Wyoming asks the Federal District Court of Wyoming for an injunction ordering quarterly oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming. That includes holding the canceled sales that were planned for March and June, as soon as reasonably possible.

The lawsuit, which totals 65 pages, includes dozens of references to previous cases for standing. It also states that since Wyoming cannot seek monetary damages in this case, economic damages the state will incur without preliminary injunction are irreparable. The lawsuit argues the moratorium harms Wyoming on four fronts: Econonomic from lack of revenue from federal lease sales, leaving minerals stranded that go uncollected, environmental damages due to the increased emissions and procedural injury by lack of engagement with the public and stakeholders before suspending leasing.

“The Secretary’s action results in significant irreparable harm to Wyoming communities which rely on revenue from federal oil and gas lease sales,” the lawsuit argues. “Services normally provided by these revenues that will go unfunded include Wyoming’s schools, roads, public health services and law enforcement.”

The federal government has until June 1 to file a response.