"NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to expand next week’s scheduled sale of of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases by millions of acres, rejecting a scaled-back plan announced last month by the Biden administration as part of an effort to protect an endangered whale species.
The Biden administration on Friday asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block the order issued Thursday night in Lake Charles, Louisiana, by U.S. District Judge James David Cain Jr. Environmental groups represented by the Earthjustice organization also appealed.
As originally proposed in March, the Sept. 27 sale was would have made 73 million acres (30 hectares) of offshore tracts available for drilling leases. That area was reduced to 67 million acres (27 hectares) in August when Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced final plans for the sale. Cain’s injunction restores the original coverage area."