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Biden handed major legal defeat in attempt to restrict oil, gas drilling in Gulf of Mexico.

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Biden handed major legal defeat in attempt to restrict oil, gas drilling in Gulf of Mexico.

A federal court struck down the Biden administration’s last-minute restrictions on an upcoming offshore oil and gas lease sale in a ruling late Thursday evening.

Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana granted a preliminBiden handed major legal defeat in attempt to restrict oil, gas drilling in Gulf of Mexico.ary injunction request from plaintiffs — the State of Louisiana, industry association American Petroleum Institute (API) and oil companies Chevron and Shell — to block the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) restrictions on Lease Sale 261. The lease sale spanning millions of acres across the Gulf of Mexico is slated for next week.

Cain ruled the federal government must proceed with the lease sale by Sept. 30 under its original conditions. As a result of a July settlement with environmental groups, BOEM removed about six million acres from the sale and imposed various restrictions on oil and gas vessels associated with the leases auctioned to protect the Rice’s whale species found in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The court observes that plaintiffs have demonstrated substantial potential costs resulting from the challenged provisions,” Cain wrote in his decision. “While the government defendants largely focus on the acreage withdrawal and dynamics of the sale itself, many of plaintiffs’ alleged hardships arise from the vessel restrictions.”

 

The Biden administration's actions remove about six million acres of potentially oil-rich leases from an upcoming federal lease sale.

The Biden administration’s actions — rejected by a federal court late Thursday — removed about six million acres of potentially oil-rich leases from an upcoming federal lease sale. (Getty Images)

“Industry plaintiffs have shown a likelihood that these will burden their operations on current and planned leases,” the ruling continued. “The resulting costs would not be undone by the court’s entry of a permanent injunction and order of another sale.”

Cain also said the Biden administration’s actions appeared to be an attempt to “provide scientific justification to a political reassessment of offshore drilling.” And he said the administration’s process looked “more like a weaponization of the Endangered Species Act than the collaborative, reasoned approach prescribed by the applicable laws and regulations.”

In a statement following the ruling Thursday, API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers said it was a positive step in ensuring energy security.

 

“We are pleased that the court has hit the brakes on the Biden Administration’s ill-conceived effort to restrict American development of reliable, lower-carbon energy in the Gulf of Mexico,” Meyers said in a statement.

“Today’s decision will allow Lease Sale 261 to move forward as directed by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act, removing the unjustified restrictions on vessel traffic imposed by the Department of the Interior and restoring the more than 6 million acres to the sale,” he added. “This decision is an important step toward greater certainty for American energy workers, a more robust Gulf Coast economy and a stronger future for U.S. energy security.”

Native Boarding Schools-Oral History

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks in Las Vegas on April 14, 2023. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put the lease sale restrictions forward after a settlement with eco groups. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In late August, API and its fellow plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration calling for the court to require the Biden administration to “fulfill its obligations to the American people.” According to industry, sales like Lease Sale 261, which is the final federal offshore lease sale scheduled, are vital to ensure long-term oil and gas production.

Overall, BOEM said — following its eco settlement in July — it would offer 12,395 blocks across approximately 67 million acres in multiple regions of the Gulf of Mexico, less than the 13,620 blocks across 73.4 million acres it originally planned to offer. The acreage stripped from the sale included potentially oil-rich tracts located in the middle of the lease area.

Offshore lease sales often span large swaths of federal waters, but earn bids on a fraction of blocks projected by companies to contain more resources and to have a higher return on investment. For example, BOEM auctioned off 73.3 million acres during Lease Sale 259 in March, but received bids worth $263.8 million for 313 tracts spanning 1.6 million acres.

 

“The injunction is a necessary and welcome response from the court to an unnecessary decision by the Biden administration,” said Erik Milito, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA). “The removal of millions of highly prospective acres and the imposition of excessive restrictions stemmed from a voluntary agreement with activist groups that circumvented the law, ignored science, and bypassed public input.”

In addition to removing acreage from the sale, BOEM also imposed restrictions on oil and gas vessel traffic associated with the leases set to be auctioned during Lease Sale 261. Among the requirements, BOEM said specially-trained visual observers must be aboard all vessels traversing the area, all ships regardless of size must travel no quicker than 10 knots and vessels should only travel through the area in the daytime.

Oil and Gas Leases Lawsuit

An oil platform is pictured in the Gulf of Mexico about 200 miles south of Galveston, Texas. Judge James Cain blasted the Biden administration for its restrictions on offshore drilling Thursday. (AP Photo/Jon Fahey, File)

BOEM’s restrictions came in response to the administration’s settlement last month with a coalition of four environmental groups led by the left-wing Sierra Club.

In a federal stipulated stay agreement filed on July 21, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) agreed to a number of conditions requested by the groups which, in response, agreed to temporarily pause litigation in the related case. The case dates back nearly three years when, in October 2020, the environmental coalition sued the NMFS for failing to properly assess the oil industry impacts on endangered and threatened marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The groups pursued the lawsuit after the NMFS coordinated a multiagency consultation studying the effects all federally regulated oil and gas activities would have on species like the Rice’s whale listed under the Endangered Species Act in the Gulf of Mexico over the next 50 years. The groups argued in the original complaint that the NMFS’ biological opinion resulting from its consultation was not based on the best science.

API and NOIA also argued BOEM’s action had contravened the congressional intent of the Inflation Reduction Act, which reinstated multiple lease sales, including Lease Sale 261, after the Biden administration axed them in May 2022. In the sale’s record of decision, it is mandated to be region-wide while its environmental analysis didn’t acknowledge risks it may pose to the Rice’s whale.

 

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Blaming Big Oil for their incompetence. California Sues Exxon, Shell and BP.

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Blaming Big Oil for their incompetence. California Sues Exxon, Shell and BP.

Just in case you missed it, California is blaming their failures on big oil. So, they’re going to court. Yes, they claim big oil caused Climate change. What happened to mankind being the culprit?

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group also named in the lawsuit, said climate policy should be debated in Congress, not the courtroom.

“This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources,” institute senior vice president Ryan Meyers said in a statement.

If big oil caused this, why not sue for damages? But the state wants the establishment of a fund to offset future costs from extreme weather events and climate mitigation efforts.  In other words, it rains, or snows, big oil pays.

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Navajo officials say a mining and drilling ban at Chaco Canyon will hurt local residents.

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Navajo officials say a mining and drilling ban at Chaco Canyon will hurt local residents.

Arlyssa D. Becenti

Arizona Republic

A few weeks before Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that she would withdraw more than 336,400 acres of public land from mining and drilling with a 10-mile buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Navajo Nation lawmakers passed legislation opposing the move.

Although Haaland’s action was applauded and supported by environmentalists and tribal members from the Navajo Nation and Pueblo tribes, not everyone is happy. Among the critics are Navajo allotment holders who are worried about what this will do to their livelihood.

Navajo tribal leaders also voiced displeasure, including Speaker Crystalyne Curley and President Buu Nygren, who both released statements about the 10-mile radius buffer zone.

“The Secretary’s action undermines our sovereignty and self-determination,” said Nygren. “Despite my concerns and denunciation, the Department of Interior has moved forward, which is highly disappointing. Secretary Haaland’s decision impacts Navajo allottees but also disregards the tribe’s choice to lease lands for economic development. Ultimately, this decision jeopardizes future economic opportunities, while at the same time placing some 5,600 Navajo allottees in dire financial constraints.”

The legislation, passed in April by Navajo Nation lawmakers, rescinded the previous administration’s bill opposing H.R.2181 and S.1079, the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019, and recommending the proposed buffer zone be reduced to five miles, rather than 10 miles that encompass the 336,400-acre land withdrawal.

The new bill does not support any buffer zone and opposes the intent for any withdrawal.

Haaland said the decision to create the buffer came after “significant consultation” with other tribes, and she noted that the 20-year withdrawal applies only to public lands and federal mineral holdings and does not apply to minerals owned by private, state or tribal entities.

It also does not affect valid existing leases. Production from existing wells could continue, additional wells could be drilled on existing leases, and Navajo Nation allottees can continue to lease their minerals.

But former Navajo Council Delegate Mark Freeland had reported during an April 2022 government-to-government consultation meeting that those who could be most deeply affected are those who live around Chaco Canyon, and who are the ones being ignored on this issue.

“The White House, as did Congress, stated that the rule would not apply to individual Indian allotments or to minerals within the area owned by private, state, or tribal entities,” Freeland said. “In reality, the rule would have a devastating impact because the indirect effect would make the allottees’ land primarily worthless from the standpoint of energy extraction.”

He reported that withdrawal of land affects 53 individual allotments, generating $6.2 million a year in royalties for approximately 5,462 allottees. Many Navajo families rely on this income to meet their daily needs. It is estimated that 418 unleased allotments are also associated with about 16,615 allottees, and the withdrawal could adversely affect well over 22,000 allottees.

“Collectively, leadership of the Navajo Nation is equally concerned that environmental organizations have made a point to target Chaco Culture National Historical Park for political or financial gain,” Freeland said, “without listening or taking into account the people who are from the region. Chaco Canyon is located on Navajo Nation lands.”

At the forum, he noted that the National Park Conservation Association has been one of the primary advocacy groups to launch a campaign for buffers around national parks most threatened by oil and gas production, and Chaco Canyon was on top of their list.

Freeland reemphasized that those living in the Chaco Canyon area have been ignored, and for the past six years Congress has considered multiple proposals to create a buffer zone around the historical park at the additional request of the All Pueblo Council of Governors.

“Protecting Indigenous lands is important for future generations to understand our country and to respect the Pueblos’ sacred culture,” said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association after Haaland announced her decision.

“There are limits to this administrative protection, as 20 years is significant but also the equivalent of an eye blink on this timeless landscape,” Pierno said. “The National Parks Conservation Association calls on Congress to finish the job and approve legislation championed by the entire New Mexico delegation to permanently protect the region.”

Those who live around Chaco Canyon, who were born there before it became a National Historic Park, and are descendants of those who lived in the area for generations have always expressed their dismay about a buffer zone and Haaland’s stance on the issue.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a "Road to Healing" event on Jan. 20, 2023, at the Gila Crossing Community School outside Laveen.

Delora Hesuse is a Navajo allottee and has been advocating on the allotments and the challenges of what fellow allotment owners are trying to let people know. One conflict is Haaland’s position on Chaco Canyon and whether she would be able to really listen to those living in the area.

“There is a conflict with everything that is going on,” said Hesuse, adding that Haaland “never once met with us when she was a congresswoman. I say this too, as another Native woman, does she have respect for other tribes? Does she have respect for us?”

She described the elders who receive royalty payment from oil and gas and said they are grateful. This income from oil and gas is income that Navajo allottees depend on and they are living a better life because of it. She also noted she has never heard of anyone getting sick from the effects of oil and gas production.

Within the Navajo Nation, 35.8% of households have incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and about 10% live without electricity. The Chaco Canyon drilling ban would strip an energy source from the Navajo Nation, and could cost Navajos an estimated $194 million over the next two decades.

“We have all these environmentalists coming in and telling us how we should be or how we should live,” Hesuse said. “Remember, we are the first people here.”

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Nobel Winner Refutes Climate Change Narrative, Points Out Ignored Factor

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Research physicist John F. Clauser poses for a photo at his home in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Oct. 4, 2022. John F. Clauser jointly won a Nobel Prize in physics with two other scientists, Alain Aspect of France, and Anton Zeilinger of Austria, for their work on quantum information science. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Image

By Jan Jekielek and Mimi Nguyen Ly  9/9/2023

Nobel Prize laureate John Clauser has recently been in the spotlight for challenging prevailing climate models, which he says have ignored a key variable.

Mr. Clauser, who recently became a recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to quantum mechanics, holds degrees from Caltech and Columbia University. He served in roles at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, he was honored with a portion of the Wolf Prize in Physics.

Recently, Mr. Clauser joined another Nobel laureate and over 1,600 professionals in signing the World Climate Declaration (WCD) organized by Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL). This declaration asserts that there is no “climate emergency,” that climate change science is not conclusive, and that the earth’s history over thousands of years shows a consistently changing climate.

The WCD highlights the limitations of current climate models, stating they overemphasize the impact of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). “In addition, [climate models] ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial,” the WCD reads, in part.

The declaration further notes that both natural and human activities contribute to climate change, and the actual warming observed is less than as predicted by the climate models, revealing our incomplete understanding of climate change.

In an interview with The Epoch Times’s “American Thought Leaders,” Mr. Clauser voiced his reservations about current climate research quality and contends that U.S. climate policies are misguided.

Clouds

Prominent climate reports, such as those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society, emphasize the role of CO2 but miss the mark on the critical role of clouds in the climate system, according to Mr. Clauser.

It’s No Longer Global Warming–UN Chief Says It’s the ‘Era of Global Boiling’: Gregory Wrightstone

The only thing “boiling” are the fweelings of these so-called “experts” and the leftist billionaires paying them. see link above.

His curiosity about clouds began as a sailboat racer. He recalled, “I raced across the Pacific Ocean at least a dozen times. I had set up the boat with solar panels to charge the batteries. … I had an ammeter on the power output from the solar panels, and I noticed every time we sailed under a cloud, the output from the solar panels dropped by 50 percent to half of its value that it was, and then we came out from behind the cloud and boom, their power went back up. And I thought, ‘I wonder why it’s just about a factor of two.'”

“This is how I became very curious as to how clouds work. When the climate issues came along, I very quickly realized that cloud cover has a profound effect on the earth’s heat input that the clouds are reflecting a massive amount of light back out into space.

“And so I read all of the various IPCC reports, National Academy reports on this,” he continued. “As a physicist, I’d worked at some excellent institutions— Caltech, Columbia, Cal Berkeley—where very careful science needed to be done. And reading these reports, I was appalled at how sloppy the work was. And in particular, it was very obvious, even in the earliest reports, and all carried on through to the present, that clouds were not at all understood. … It’s just simply bad science.”

Mr. Clauser highlighted insights from former President Barack Obama’s science adviser, Steve Koonin. In Mr. Koonin’s book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters,” the author noted the inconsistency of the IPCC’s 40 computer models, emphasizing their inability to explain the past century’s climate and suggesting that th

‘The Missing Piece’

Mr. Clauser said he believes he has identified a significant oversight in prevailing climate models.

“I believe I have the missing piece of the puzzle that has been left out in virtually all of these computer programs,” he stated. “And that is the effect of clouds.”

While many theories of anthropogenic climate change focus primarily on the impact of human-produced CO2, Mr. Clauser argues that these models overlook the significance of cloud dynamics.

He referenced the 2003 National Academy report, which, he said, “totally admitted” its lack of understanding about clouds, and made “a whole series of mistaken statements regarding the effects of clouds.”

Drawing attention to Al Gore’s film, “The Inconvenient Truth,” Mr. Clauser noted, “[Mr. Gore] insists on talking about a cloud-free earth … That’s a totally artificial Earth.” According to Mr. Clauser, this cloudless portrayal of the earth reflects the approach taken by many in the climate science community.

“That’s a totally artificial Earth. It is a totally artificial case for using a model, and this is pretty much what the IPCC and others use—a cloud free earth.”

Mr. Clauser pointed out that satellite images consistently show wide variances in cloud cover, which can span anywhere from five to 95 percent of the Earth’s surface.

“The cloud cover fraction fluctuates quite dramatically on daily weekly timescales. We call this weather. You can’t have weather without having clouds,” he said.

Effect of Clouds Compared to CO2

Clouds play a paramount role in regulating the Earth’s temperature, serving as a “cloud-sunlight-reflectivity thermostat” that “controls the climate, controls the temperature of the earth, and stabilizes it very powerfully and very dramatically,” asserts Mr. Clauser.

With two-thirds of the Earth being oceanic, the ocean becomes instrumental in cloud formation, he said.

Minimal clouds result in heightened sunlight exposure to the ocean, triggering increased evaporation and subsequent cloud formation, resulting in more clouds. On the contrary, abundant clouds reduce this sunlight, thus curbing evaporation rates and cloud formation, resulting in fewer clouds, Mr. Clauser explains.

This balance acts like a natural thermostat for the earth’s temperature, he said.

Mr. Clauser contends that this “thermostat” mechanism has a vastly greater influence on Earth’s temperature than the effect of CO2 or methane. He presented to The Epoch Times preliminary calculations that suggest that the impact of this cloud-reflectivity mechanism might overshadow CO2’s influence by more than 100 or even 200 times.

All clouds, irrespective of their altitude or type, appear bright white when viewed from the direction of the sun, according to Mr. Clauser. They typically reflect almost 90 percent of incoming sunlight, he said. The reflectivity fraction is referred to as albedo. The albedo has been inaccurately kept constant in various climate models, Mr. Clauser argues.

He finds it baffling how these significant variations, ranging from five to 95 percent cloud cover, have been overlooked.

Mr. Clauser further underscores that clouds are integral to weather dynamics, and yet, current climate models, whose authors “admit upfront that their models cannot predict weather,” have been wielded to foretell drastic climatic shifts, including “climate crisis apocalypse.”

The term “climate” refers to long-term, typically 30 years or more, weather condition averages. While reliable weather forecasts are limited to about a week with standard weather prediction models, which take into account the role of clouds, Mr. Clauser points out a contradiction noted in Mr. Koonin’s book: just a 5 percent rise in cloud cover can largely counterbalance the temperature effect of doubling atmospheric CO2. Despite such nuances, according to Mr. Clauser, the IPCC’s models persistently assume constant albedo, and ignore the vast cloud cover variations.

‘Very Dishonest Disinformation’

Mr. Clauser observed that the drive to address human-induced climate change is increasingly shaping political agendas and influencing the strategic direction of entire nations.

“The whole world is doing all of this. A lot of the pressure is actually coming from Europe, all of these various world conferences” he said, speculating much of this push might have its roots in Mr. Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” which he feels has incorporated inaccurate science.

Mr. Gore’s film claims that humanity is triggering a dire climate crisis that necessitates global action. But Mr. Clauser contends: “‘Climate change’ is actually very dishonest disinformation that has been presented by various politicians.”

He pinpoints a 2013 Physics Today article (pdf) by Jane Lubchenco and Thomas Karl as pivotal in shaping the narrative, especially during the period when “global warming” was being rebranded as “climate change.”

“The reason that was given was ‘well, because it’s really more than just warming,'” he said. The article champions a “U.S. Climate Extremes Index,” claiming that anthropogenic climate change led to a significant increase in extreme weather events over the past three decades, ending in 2012.

The index leaves out the frequency of EF3+ tornadoes

The index is supposedly backed by a century’s worth of data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and is said to combine various metrics including floods, hurricanes, and droughts.

Curiously, Mr. Clauser noted, the index leaves out the frequency of EF3+ tornadoes—perhaps because, as highlighted by Mr. Koonin in his book, those were on a noticeable decline. “This, in my opinion, is a rather egregious breach of honesty by the U.S. government by NOAA,” Mr. Clauser said.

He used data from the article and plotted it chronologically and also in reverse. From this, Mr. Clauser observed that the two plots were virtually indistinguishable, challenging the assertion of an obvious rise in the index.

“Are you really willing to bet trillions of dollars that you know which [plot] is right? … Is it really increasing? It is clearly not,” he said.

“Not only, as I understand it, are these extreme weather events not increasing, but our ability to mitigate them has increased. So they’re just not as much of an issue,” Mr. Clauser said, adding later, “This worry about CO2, the worry about methane, the worry about global warming, is all a total fabrication by shocked journalists and or dishonest politicians.”

On the contrary, Mr. Clauser agrees with the CO2 Coalition, which argues that CO2 is a beneficial gas.

“Historically, for example, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the CO2 levels were 10 times bigger than what we are experiencing right now,” he said. “Dinosaurs couldn’t have survived on this earth with this low CO2 level [today], because you don’t grow trees fast enough and foliage fast enough to feed them.”

“Promoting CO2 as being actually a beneficial gas, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing wrong with [that],” he said. “And in particular, as I have just mentioned earlier, it is not at all significant in controlling the earth’s climate.”

A total waste of money, time, and effort.

Mr. Clauser criticized U.S. government efforts to reduce CO2 and methane as a colossal misuse of resources better allocated for humanitarian endeavors. Such initiatives, he argues, “should be stopped immediately.”

“[It’s] a total waste of money and time and effort. It is strangling industry,” he said.

But Mr. Clauser is not holding his breath.

“My suspicion is what I am saying here will be totally ignored because people don’t like being told that they’ve made big mistakes of this magnitude,” he said.

 

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