Judge orders quarterly oil and gas lease sales on North Dakota federal land to resume

The oil and gas lease sales on federal land in North Dakota, suspended by the Biden administration, enable a revenue stream of $100 million to royalty owners in the state.

An oil pump is silhouetted against a partly cloudy sky at sunset.
An oil pump in western North Dakota.
Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — A judge has ordered oil and gas lease sales on federal lands in North Dakota to resume, overturning a Biden administration freeze on the sales.

U.S. District Judge Dan Traynor on Monday, March 27, ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to resume the quarterly sales in a decision finding that the cancellation of the lease sales was illegal.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley welcomed the ruling, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by the state.

“The Court’s order directs BLM to comply with federal law and do what Congress commanded BLM to do,” Wrigley said in a statement, adding that it was “unfortunate that North Dakota had to take BLM to court twice to finally get it to do its duty.”

The dispute started in 2021 when President Biden issued an executive order “pausing” quarterly oil and lease sales required by the Mineral Leasing Act.


Wrigley called Traynor's decision a “victory for the rule of law," and said the “BLM’s illegal cancellations were costing North Dakota’s citizens over $100 million in revenue a year and depriving the nation of much needed access to oil and gas during these difficult times of high inflation and threats to our energy security.”

What To Read Next
Get Local