CASPER —Wyoming’s oil and gas industry will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling this summer that the federal government legally paused new oil and gas leasing during the first quarter of 2021. 

U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl sided with the Biden administration and several environmental groups — and against the state, Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming — in the Sept. 2 decision. 

The Western Energy Alliance, a regional oil and gas trade group, announced days later that it would appeal, citing the “misapplication” of federal environmental laws. 

It and other industry members feared the outcome would afford federal officials too much leeway to delay and diminish future lease sales. 

But the Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (undecided at the time) have opted instead to move on from the lawsuit. 

Though the challenge targeted the postponement of leasing more broadly, Skavdahl did not consider federal actions taken after the lawsuit’s filing — disqualifying all arguments from industry and some from the state. 

“We are not going to appeal the ruling out of the Wyoming District because it was narrowly focused on the facts related to the first quarter 2021 lease sales and doesn’t have much applicability beyond it,” Western Energy Alliance president Kathleen Sgamma said in an email to the Star-Tribune. 

Gov. Mark Gordon’s office declined to comment on whether the state would appeal. 

But the 60-day window during which it could do so ended Tuesday. 

The industry’s reversal came as little surprise to the environmental advocates on the other side of the dispute. 

“It’s such a well-reasoned decision that it would be very difficult to appeal,” said Shannon Anderson, staff attorney for the landowners’ group Powder River Basin Resource Council. 

“I think it still holds true that (the Bureau of Land Management) has a lot of discretion to consider environmental impacts, to make sure they’re taking climate into account when they’re doing new leases,” Anderson added. “And we hope BLM really uses this decision going forward.” 

The agency announced last month that it is considering about 251,000 acres for Wyoming’s next federal oil and gas lease sale, which may be held as soon as the second quarter of 2023. It will accept public comment through Monday on the 209 tracts proposed for leasing. 

“BLM is going to get an earful, and they’ll have to wade through all of that,” Anderson said. 

Meanwhile, Sgamma said the Western Energy Authority “will be tackling the Interior Secretary’s failure to hold quarterly lease sales very soon.” 

And Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Pete Obermueller told the Star-Tribune the group is “evaluating a different approach because we continue to believe that the federal government is not following the law as intended.” 

He declined to elaborate on the organization’s legal strategy. 

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