Western Energy Alliance

Publisher’s Note: The Western Energy Alliance oil industry group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive order temporarily suspending oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

Biden's leasing ban on public lands challenged by Western Energy Alliance in federal court- oil and gas 360




  • Suit argues the Executive Order conflicts with existing laws
  • Biden’s ban would result in $33.5 billion in lost GDP in his first term
  • President’s action risks over $8.8 billion in conservation funding

DENVER – Today, Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s executive order banning oil and natural gas leasing on federal public lands. The complaint challenges Biden’s order as exceeding presidential authority and constituting a violation of the Mineral Leasing Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act.

The Alliance filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. The state ranks first in federal natural gas production and third in oil and has more federal acres leased than any other state. The Alliance will be represented by L. Poe Leggette, Mark S. Barron and Alexander K. Obrecht of BakerHostetler.

The type of programmatic environmental analysis regarding climate change that has been announced will take years to complete, likely lasting most if not all of the president’s first term. According to a recent economic study from the Wyoming Energy Authority, the cost of Biden’s ban will be staggering. In his first term, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across eight western states would decline $33.5 billion, 58,676 jobs would be cut annually, wages would drop $15 billion, and state tax revenue would plummet $8.3 billion. Wyoming and New Mexico would be hit the hardest.

“The law is clear. Presidents don’t have authority to ban leasing on public lands. All Americans own the oil and natural gas beneath public lands, and Congress has directed them to be responsibly developed on their behalf. Drying up new leasing puts future development as well as existing projects at risk. President Biden cannot simply ignore laws in effect for over half a century,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “Biden’s ban is an overreach meant to satisfy the environmental left, but it would seriously harm the livelihoods of tens of thousands of westerners and put at risk millions more as state services become unfunded.

“Furthermore, the Biden ban puts at risk national parks and public lands funding less than a year after Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act and directed $1.3 billion annually in oil and natural gas leasing and production revenue into conservation. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is likewise at risk as it depends on federal offshore oil and natural gas. By targeting the industry, the president is risking the $8.8 billion in conservation revenue streams that otherwise are available from a stable federal oil and natural gas program. The president just created a gap in conservation funding that he likely hasn’t even considered, just as he hasn’t considered the sacrifice of nearly 58,700 western livelihoods every year this ban continues,” concluded Sgamma.


  • Oil and natural gas from public lands accounted for 6.4 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, of the national’s total production.
  • Companies returned $4.2 billion in onshore and $5.6 billion in offshore leasing revenue and royalties in 2019.
  • If extended, over the next 20 years the Biden Ban would result in $639.6 billion in lost GDP, $286 billion in lost wages, $151 billion in lost state tax revenue, and job losses climbing to 343,088 annually, according to the Wyoming Energy Authority study.
  • The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law on August 5, 2020. It directs up to $1.3 billion annually toward addressing the $13 billion maintenance backlog at national parks. The funding comes from royalties and leasing revenues paid by companies to the federal government from oil and natural gas on public lands. The law also directs $900 million annually to the Land Water Conservation Fund from offshore leasing and development.
  • Western Energy Alliance has a track record of success in court, including overturning the Obama-era federal hydraulic fracturing and waste prevention rules.

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Western Energy Alliance represents 200 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. Alliance members are independents, the majority of which are small businesses with an average of fourteen employees. Learn more at www.WesternEnergyAlliance.org.

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