Fate Of The Struggling Greater Sage Grouse Shaping Energy Development In U.S. West

SARATOGA, Wyo. (AP) — Efforts to conserve a struggling species of grouse that ranges across the Western U.S. are having far-reaching effects on the region’s energy industry as the Obama administration decides whether the bird needs more protections.

Sales of leases on 8.1 million acres of federal oil and gas parcels — an area larger than Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined — are on hold because of worries that drilling could harm greater sage grouse, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s delay on the parcels underscores just how much is at stake for an industry that finds its future inextricably intertwined with a bird once known primarily for its elaborate mating display.

The grouse’s huge range, covering portions of 11 states and an area more than four times as big as New England, includes vast oil, gas and coal reserves and the best type of windy, open country for developing wind power.

“We’re not real happy about it. It’s not even an endangered species,” said Rick Bailey, who runs an oil and gas lease brokerage, Nevada Leasing Services. He said he’s had hundreds of thousands of acres of potential leases put on hold.

Those parcels are —> Read More Here


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