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North Dakota sues Biden Administration over moratorium on oil and gas land leases

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Oil well(KFYR)
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In the early days of his administration, President Biden placed a moratorium on oil and gas land leases. North Dakota has joined a number of states that have sued the federal government for that action.

According to federal law, the Bureau of Land Management is required to hold lease auctions every quarter. Since they haven’t been held this year, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem estimates that North Dakota has already lost around $62 million in revenue from the March and June auctions.

“The fact of the matter is, if we are not able to prevail, the state of North Dakota is likely to lose hundreds of millions, likely billions of dollars in tax revenue and revenue for the development of minerals that the state of North Dakota itself owns,” said Stenehjem.

Other states have also filed lawsuits seeking an end to the moratorium, but some experts say that the effects could be worse for North Dakota landowners than landowners in those other states. This is because most land in North Dakota is held by private landowners.

“What’s very frustrating for me and my clientele, is that if you’re a mineral owner in western North Dakota who has land that is next to or near federal acreage, what this means is that you will not see that acreage developed,” said McKenzie County Commissioner Joel Brown.

The state hopes a federal judge will issue an order requiring the Bureau of Land Management to hold auctions, as mandated by law.

North Dakota is one of fourteen states suing the Biden Administration over the moratorium. Attorney General Stenehjem is hopeful that he’ll receive the judge’s order in the early months of 2022.

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