North Dakota sues Biden administration for $80M for 'unlawfully canceling oil and gas leasing'

North Dakota sues Biden administration for $80M for ‘unlawfully canceling oil and gas leasing’

North Dakota sues Biden administration for $ 80M for ‘unlawfully canceling oil and gas leasing’ in the state – as Keystone XL owners launch $ 15B suit over blocked pipeline permit

  • North Dakota AG Wayne Stenehjem filed the lawsuit after federal agencies canceled oil and gas leasing auctions
  • It named Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Nada Culver, and their agencies, as defendants 
  • John Melhoff, director of the Montana-Dakotas Bureau of Land Management, was also named as a defendant 
  • The complaint argues that March and June auctions stopped by the federal agencies cost the state $ 80million in lost revenue
  • It says the lost revenue ‘could grow to into billions in the coming months unless BLM’s illegal cancellations are stopped’
  • It comes after the energy firm that owns the Keystone XL pipeline announced it will seek $ 15 billion in damages from the Biden administration 
  • TC Energy has filed a notice of intent with the State Department for damages  for blocking the pipeline’s permit
  • Says the Biden administration breached NAFTA negotiations by blocking project
  • President revoked permit for the 1,200-mile pipeline on his first day in office    










North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for $ 80million after federal agencies canceled oil and gas leasing auctions in the state.

The state’s Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota Western Division.

It named Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Nada Culver, and their agencies, as defendants. John Melhoff, director of the Montana-Dakotas Bureau of Land Management, was also named as a defendant.  

BLM has unlawfully canceled the regularly scheduled auctions of oil & gas leases of public mineral rights in North Dakota that BLM is required by federal law to hold,’ a press release from Stenehjem’s office reads.

The complaint argues that March and June auctions stopped by the federal agencies cost the state $ 80million in lost revenues, ‘a number that could grow to into billions in the coming months unless BLM’s illegal cancellations are stopped’.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota Western Division

North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for $ 80 million after federal agencies ‘unlawfully canceled oil and gas leasing’ auctions in the state 

It named as defendants: Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Nada Culver, and their agencies

The lawsuit also seeks to require BLM to reschedule those lost oil and gas lease sales and prevent the federal agency from stopping future sales in the state. 

In a statement, Stenejhem said: ‘I have taken this action to protect North Dakota’s economy, the jobs of our hard-working citizens, and North Dakota’s rights to control its own natural resources.’

North Dakota’s lawsuit comes after a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters last month, Reuters reported. 

‘I welcome and support the Louisiana federal district court’s decision and I look forward to defending North Dakota’s vital interests in its natural resources and continuing to put the pressure on the Federal government to do the right thing for our state,’ Stenehjem said.

North Dakota is America’s second-biggest crude oil producing state, with the bulk of its tax revenues produced by oil and gas activity.

In 2016, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Stenehjem’s unsuccessful campaign for governor of North Dakota collected at least $ 50,000 in donations from oil companies’ political action committees and oil executives.

‘Coal PACs and power companies with coal interests also gave at least $ 97,000 to Stenehjem’s campaign since it began accepting contributions in October,’ the outlet reported at the time.

Demonstrators hold signs as they protest against the Keystone XL pipeline in San Francisco, California in 2013

 North Dakota is the second-biggest crude oil producing U.S. state, with the bulk of its tax revenues produced by oil and gas activity

Heavy equipment works on a piece of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that lies north of Oyen, Alberta on February 1

Gov. Doug Burgum praised the lawsuit in comments posted to Twitter

Petroleum Council President Ron Ness told the Bismark Tribune at the time that Stenehjem has been ‘a strong supporter for a long time and great on these federal issues.’

Stenehjem was beat out in that race by Gov. Doug Burgum, who praised Stenehjem for the lawsuit on Twitter. 

‘We support AG Wayne Stenehjem’s legal challenge to a federal ban on new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands. Rather than working with states on forward-looking innovation, this unlawful ban is top-down regulation that threatens to drive up the price at the pump,’ Burgum tweeted.

‘ND has a robust energy industry and clean air and water because we have developed our resources responsibly with an all-of-the-above energy approach. This ban hurts hardworking Americans, puts our energy security at risk, and fails to solve the problem for the environment.’ 

News of the lawsuit comes after the energy firm that owns the Keystone XL pipeline announced it will seek $ 15billion in damages from the Biden administration for blocking its permit – which allegedly cost thousands of jobs.

TC Energy has filed a notice of intent with the State Department that it will bring a claim saying the federal government breached NAFTA obligations by shutting the project down.

President Joe Biden announced on his first day in office that he was revoking the permit on the construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline as he sought to do away with initiatives from the Trump administration. 

The energy firm that owns the Keystone XL pipeline has announced it will be seeking $ 15billion in damages from the Biden administration for blocking the permit and costing thousands of jobs. The pipeline would have carried roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the tar sands of Canada to the US

When Biden pulled the plug, TC Energy said the decision would force it to immediately lay off 1,000 workers. 

‘I believe this will send a concerning signal to infrastructure developers that resonates far beyond our project and will stifle innovation for a practical transition towards sustainable energy,’ Keystone XL President Richard Prior said at the time. 

The pipeline would have carried roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the tar sands of Canada to Nebraska and then through an existing pipeline to coastal Texas.

The company announced they had filed claim after talks with the oil cartel OPEC were called off, raising fears oil production will not be able to keep up with demand throughout the summer.

American motorists now face paying even more at the pumps following a July 4 weekend which saw a seven-year-high in gas prices across the country. 

The average price of a gallon of gas stands at $ 3.13, up 95 cents, or 44 per cent, from 2020. 

‘TC Energy will be seeking to recover more than $ 15billion in damages that it has suffered as a result of the U.S. Government’s breach of its NAFTA obligations,’ the firm said in a press release over the weekend.

TC Energy officially pulled the plug on the project in June. Environmentalists have argued the project would worsen the climate crisis.

The news also came after a gas pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico and caused a huge fire in the water. 

In March, 21 states led by Texas and Montana sued the Biden administration, arguing that the fate of the permit of the pipeline should have been decided by Congress.  

TC Energy has filed a notice of intent with the State Department that it will bring a claim saying the federal government breached NAFTA obligations by shutting the project down

The impasse follows a July 4 weekend where Americans faced seven-year high prices at the pumps. The average price of a gallon of gas stands at $ 3.13, up 95 cents, or 44 per cent, from 2020

In January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit out at the nixing of the permit and urged Biden to rethink his decision.

However officials in Alberta have since claimed Trudeau didn’t push Biden hard enough to reinstate the permit and the president was not swayed.

Republicans were also unhappy about Biden’s move. 

Even some moderate Senate Democrats including Montana’s Jon Tester and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin have urged Biden to reconsider.

Tester said in a statement Wednesday that he was disappointed with the project’s demise, but made no mention of Biden.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, was more direct: ‘President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs.’

When Biden pulled the plug, TC Energy said the decision would force it to immediately lay off 1,000 workers. A field storing unused pipes in Dorchester, Nebraska, is picture in December 2020

Trump had raged about the halting of the pipeline at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville in June, claiming his successor had cost America 48,000 jobs.

‘The Biden administration seems to be putting America last. You look at these negotiations where so many bad things have happened,’ he said.

‘48,000 jobs were lost by President Biden’s day one rejection of the Keystone Pipeline. For what reason – why did they do that?

‘And if you like the environment, the pipeline is much better than railroad tracks and trucking. It’s great and they ended it on day one.’ 

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Author: Adam Schrader
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