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Oil and natural gas industry conservation measures to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse




Meinhart, Brian, speaker
Riley, Terry, moderator
International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer

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The potential listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) is a major cause for concern for communities throughout the West. As the species inhabits 53 million acres in eleven western states, a listing of the sage-grouse would significantly impact a number of public land uses including agriculture, mining, recreation, and oil and natural gas exploration and production. These uses are not only important to the modern economic viability of western communities, but are part of the historic fabric of the West and a key component of our heritage. The Service has repeatedly stressed its preference for mandatory conservation measures, which it states will provide the regulatory certainty needed to ensure that protective measures actually occur. The oil and natural gas industry has for years committed to a wide range of mandatory efforts to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to the Greater Sage-Grouse and its habitat on public lands. These commitments are identified during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, and specify the terms under which an oil and natural gas project may move forward, thereby providing the regulatory certainty that the Service is looking for. Our presentation at the Wildlife Congress will feature a recent study by SWCA Environmental Consultants for Western Energy Alliance, which documents and quantifies these conservation measures. Specifically, the study shows that the existing NEPA process provides a robust regulatory mechanism for the protection of the sage-grouse, illustrates the effectiveness of those measures, and posits that oil and natural gas development and the conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse in the West are mutually achievable goals. We hope this information will prove useful to the Service in the listing decision process, and along with other stakeholder-driven conservation efforts, demonstrate that the species and the western way of life can both thrive without the necessity of an ESA listing.


Moderator: Terry Riley.
Presented at the 8th international congress for wildlife and livelihoods on private and communal lands: livestock, tourism, and spirit, that was held on September 7-12, 2014 in Estes Park, Colorado.

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Wildlife management -- Congresses
Range management -- Congresses


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