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New Mexico groups debate impact of court ruling on oil and gas leases

After a federal judge in Louisiana struck down a halt of new federal oil and gas leases imposed by President Joe Biden upon taking office, New Mexico industry leaders applauded the decision while environmentalists criticized the move as stymieing efforts to curb pollution.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against the halt on new oil and gas leases on federal land, barring the U.S. Interior Department, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies from enforcing the ban.

The rule came amid a lawsuit filed in March by 13 states against the Biden administration that called for the ban to be lifted, citing the economic harm brought on by any alleged disruption of oil and gas activities on federal land.

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Judge Terry Doughty

Plaintiffs were oil-producing states Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

While New Mexico was not involved in the lawsuit, leaders pointed to the impacts on the state ranked third in the nation in oil production.

More than a third of New Mexico’s State budget comes from oil and gas revenue, and more than half of operations are on federal land in the state.