Court Rules Against Rice’s Whale Protections

This week, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Interior Department must a hold lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the year without additional protections for the Rice’s whale, a final decision on a highly controversial dispute. The court cited lack of standing for the environmentalists’ lawsuit, which would have excluded six million acres from the congressionally mandated lease sale area to protect habitat for the Rice’s whale. Additionally, the Department of Interior issued that the lease sale must take place within 37 days of the order. This ruling is a win for just energy policies and a rebuke of the administration’s aggressive environmental agenda.

The 5th Circuit’s decision put a stop to onerous regulations that would have severely hampered oil and gas extraction in the Gulf, a livelihood to many of those who live along the coast. Alongside carving out six million acres of seabed for the lease sale, the regulations would have also enforced strict speed limits for vessels partaking in oil and gas extraction, decreasing efficiency and production. Of course, these regulations would have only applied to vessels related to oil and gas, directly targeting the traditional energy industry.

These aren’t the only hostile energy policies set forth by the administration in the Gulf. Recently, the administration authorized the lowest amount of offshore lease sales for oil and gas in history, allowing only three over the next five years. Curtailing new energy projects and hamstringing current opportunities continues to put our national security and energy supply in jeopardy, increasing the potential for damage to local and state economies.

The administration has been exhausting our nation’s petroleum reserve, selling off almost half of its stockpile, in an effort to tame prices in the wake of the Ukraine war. The Biden administration should be empowering the U.S.’s potential as an energy powerhouse, instead of dictating the viability of certain energy projects. Yesterday’s ruling was a reminder that a healthy balance between energy development and environmental protection is essential for securing our nation’s future.

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