The Biden administration has been ordered by a federal judge to expand the upcoming sale of Gulf of Mexico oil leases to include additional acreage, according to a ruling issued late Thursday.
The Louisiana-based judge said the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was wrong when it announced last month it was removing 6M acres from the auction block and imposing traffic limits on vessels in an effort to protect an endangered whale.
The agency "failed to justify its pivot," the judge wrote. "The process followed here looks more like a weaponization of the Endangered Species Act than the collaborative, reasoned approach prescribed by the applicable laws and regulations."
The judge ordered the Interior Department to conduct the sale including the previously withdrawn acreage by September 30.