Wyoming Opinion Differs on Leaked BLM Talking Points and Expanding Energy Development

by as published on The Casper Star Tribune

“Let me make one thing clear: The Interior Department is in the energy business,”

English: Bureau of Land Management logo

English: Bureau of Land Management logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A leaked draft of a new priority list from the Bureau of Land Management recently put energy development front and center among the agency’s initiatives.

In Wyoming, where the BLM manages 17.5 million acres of public land, any changes in how the agency permits and leases land for drilling oil and gas, or digging coal, sparks debate between those seeking to do business and those who want to reserve more land for public use and conservation.

The five-point draft from the BLM lists a number of priorities for the agency, like promoting energy independence for the U.S. and developing habitat improvement projects. The majority of the bullet points concern fossil fuel development. They include streamlining the drilling application process, opening new lands for drilling and addressing a “backlog” of industry requests. E&E News obtained a copy of the document and reported on its contents April 10.

 A spokeswoman for BLM said the list reflects the multi-use responsibility of the BLM but emphasized that it is not a final draft.

“While these documents are still in draft form, these talking points are being assembled by the team at the BLM to clearly lay out our continued commitment to ensure opportunities for commercial, recreation and conservation activities on BLM-managed lands,” said spokeswoman Megan Crandall in a statement. “Our multiple-use and sustained yield mission for managing public lands on behalf of all Americans supports an all-of-the-above energy plan, shared conservation through tribal, state and local partnerships, public access for recreation and other activities and keeping America’s working public landscapes healthy and productive.”

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story.

http://trib.com/business/energy/wyoming-opinion-differs-on-leaked-blm-talking-points-and-expanding/article_5105a15d-51f8-5e1b-8751-8624c707cc55.html

Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians on livestock grazing, oil & gas issues and more, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 4/8/15)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , April 8, 2015

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen To the archived show (Here)!

This is a 1 hour show.  Call in with questions during the 2nd half hour.  

Call in # (917) 388-4520

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Erik Molvar Headshot

Our guest tonight is Erik Molvar, M.S., Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director for WildEarth Guardians.

Erik Molvar joined WildEarth Guardians in 2013 as their Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director.  He received a M. Sc. in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he authored a number of scientific studies on the evolutionary biology, population dynamics, and ecology of Alaskan moose.

Erik spent 13 years as Wildlife Biologist and later Executive Director for Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Wyoming, where he specialized in sage grouse conservation and oil and gas issues.  He served four years on the Laramie City Council, where he moved a national resolution on hydraulic fracking through the National League of Cities.

WildEarth Guardians states “Between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada exists a vast legacy of boundless and untamed lands: we call it the Sagebrush Sea and much of it belongs to every American. Decisive conservation action on nearly 80 million acres of this landscape has long been delayed and denied.”

Key objectives of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign are to retire livestock grazing from millions of acres by offering ranchers an equitable exit strategy and to secure federal legislation that authorizes voluntary and permanent grazing permit retirement.  WildEarth Guardians also works to save prairie dogs and sage grouse.

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Erik is also a professional writer and photographer, and has authored 16 guidebooks to national parks and wilderness areas across the West.

Read Erik’s 25th Anniversary Story “How the West Was Won“.  To read many interesting reports by WildEarth Guardians, click HERE.

Tonight’s radio show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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GAO report: BLM fails to inspect most high-risk natural gas oil wells

The BLM’s failure to protect wild horses from extinction seems to be part of its failure to manage public lands.  Read the GAO report below to find out more about how BLM’s failures create potential risks for water contamination and other environmental safety issues.  (Be sure to ask for all reports on each and every oil well in a BLM District when BLM issues an Environmental Assessment to round up wild horses in the future.)  BLM’s outdated science and incomplete monitoring are reported AGAIN.              –  Debbie Coffey

Read the GAO report released Monday.

SOURCE:  Associated Press

Fed Govt Failed To Inspect Higher Risk Oil Wells

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands.

Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data.

The findings from the Government Accountability Office come amid an energy boom in the country and the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That process involves pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow. It has produced major economic benefits, but also raised fears that the chemicals could spread to water supplies.

The audit also said the BLM did not coordinate effectively with state regulators in New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.

The bureau has become a symbol of federal overreach to industry groups opposed to government regulations related to oil and gas drilling. Environmental groups say the Obama administration needs to do more to guard against environmental damage.

In the coming months, the administration is expected to issue rules on fracking and methane gas emissions.

The report said the agency “cannot accurately and efficiently identify whether federal and Indian resources are properly protected or that federal and Indian resources are at risk of being extracted without agency approval.”

In response to the report, Tommy Beaudreau, a principal deputy assistant interior secretary, wrote that he generally agreed with the recommendations for improved state coordination and updated regulations.

The report makes clear in many instances that the BLM’s failure to inspect high-priority oil and gas wells is due to limited money and staff. BLM officials said they were in the process of updating several of its policies later this year.

Investigators reviewed 14 states in full or part: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. In Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, fracking has become increasingly prevalent.

The report said the BLM had failed to conduct inspections on more than 2,100 of the 3,702 wells that it had specified as “high priority” and drilled from 2009 through 2012. The agency considers a well “high priority” based on a greater need to protect against possible water contamination and other environmental safety issues.

The agency had yet to indicate whether another 1,784 wells were high priority or not.

The BLM has developed agreements with some states, which also have jurisdiction over well inspections on federal lands. According to the GAO, it had reached agreements with regulators in California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming.

The report said BLM has not reviewed or updated many of its oil and gas rules to reflect technological advances, as required by a 2011 executive order. They include guidance on spacing of wells, which the report said could help maximize oil and gas production.

The bureau acknowledged it had not updated its guidance on oil and gas drainage since 1999 or its guidance on mineral trespass — interference of drilling or mining activity — since 2003.

Congressional investigators found the BLM did not monitor inspection activities at its state and field offices and thus could not provide “reasonable assurance” that those offices were completing the required inspections.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, an Associated Press investigation found the state received 398 complaints in 2013 alleging that oil or natural gas drilling polluted or otherwise affected private water wells. More than 100 cases of pollution were confirmed over the past five years.

“This report reaffirms our concern that the government needs to pay attention to the environment and protect public health and drinking sources from the risks of oil and gas development,” said Amy Mall of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, a trade group representing energy companies, said the report’s findings show that states are better positioned to regulate oil and gas drilling.