Two North Dakota congressional leaders urged the Dept. of Interior to open up oil and gas lease auctions on federal land after a favorable ruling by a federal judge who reversed the Biden Administration’s action suspending them.

“President Biden’s ban would devastate communities and workers reliant on oil and gas jobs,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND). “I welcome this ruling, and urge immediate action.”

“Some welcome relief for American energy to resume leasing for the benefit of all Americans from the Presidents harmful actions,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

North Dakota was not part of the original lawsuit of a dozen states including Montana that challenged Biden’s action but was expected to file its own lawsuit. “North Dakota is getting closer into entering into litigation,” said Lynn Helms, director of the ND Dept. of Mineral Resources.

Judge Terry Doughty of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana concluded the Dept. of Interior appears to have violated all three laws and said only Congress can make the changes.

“By pausing the leasing, the agencies are in effect amending two congressional statutes, OCSLA and MLA, which they do not have the authority to do,” the judge wrote. Nor were the agencies exempt from APA obligations, he said.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told a Congressional committee she did not know when the auctions would resume and her agency was reviewing the court decision.

President Joe Biden had suspended drilling lease auctions in January to review the program’s environmental costs.