Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Bid to halt Nevada oil drilling in sage grouse habitat

Conservationists say the Trump administration’s approval of exploratory drilling for oil in sage grouse habitat on federal land in eastern Nevada violates its own protection guidelines and ignores concerns raised by scientists about potential harm to the bird imperiled across much of the West. Two groups are asking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s state director to at least temporarily halt the Western Oil Exploration Co.’s plans to drill two oil wells on public lands about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Ely. “BLM can’t be counted on to enforce its own sage-grouse plans, especially in Nevada,” said Kelly Fuller, energy and mining campaign director for the Western Watersheds Project. The wells are planned in sage grouse habitat within 4 miles (6.5 km) of three key breeding grounds known as leks. Opponents say those areas are supposed to be off limits under a resource management plan amendment the BLM adopted in 2015 and upheld by a federal judge last year. The formal request comes on the heels of a string of federal court rulings in several western states taking the Trump administration to task for what judges found were failures to protect the environment as it promotes the oil and gas industry and extraction of natural resources from public lands...MORE

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