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Wyoming: Sage Grouse causes deferment of drilling leases

Zach Koppang | Shale Plays Media

The oil and gas industry in Wyoming is facing off with an unlikely nemesis, the Greater Sage Grouse.

According to a report by the Casper Wyoming Star-Tribune, the Greater Sage Grouse has caused a deferment of 2,864 oil and gas leases over an area of 3.5 million acres. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has deferred the sale of drilling leases as it concludes a process of regulating land use with hopes of protecting the sage grouse which may soon be placed on the endangered species list.

The grouse are easily disturbed by loud noises, and will forgo mating if they sense danger. In many states, such as Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico, the Greater Sage Grouse has been affected by oil and gas drilling operations. Wyoming is currently home to an estimated quarter of the remaining population.

The efforts to protect the small bird have yet to be proven effective, causing some uneasiness within the oil and gas industry. The Star-Tribune reports:

One petroleum industry group remains apprehensive that the sage grouse will prompt tough restrictions on drilling regardless of whether the species gets listed.

“It’s clear that the sage grouse is holding up jobs and economic activity across Wyoming and the West,” Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, said Friday.

Mitch Snow, a BLM spokesman in Washington D.C., spoke to the Star-Tribune and said there are currently thousands of drilling permits that have yet to be acted upon, and the areas that have yet to be drilled can’t necessarily be attributed to efforts of protecting the sage grouse.

Click here to read the full story at the Casper Wyoming Star-Tribune.

Related: Restrictions may address Greater Sage-Grouse habitat loss by drilling

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