WASHINGTON, DC—In a new blog posted today by Resources for the Future (RFF), RFF Fellow Rebecca Epanchin-Niell takes a close-up view of recent federal plans affecting greater sage-grouse conservation and oil and gas activities, delving into the long-running debate about tradeoffs between economic development and species preservation.
Specifically, plans announced earlier this month by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would relax restrictions on oil and gas activity across seven states, including exemptions that can allow for drilling in areas with sensitive sage-grouse habitats. The level to which the plans open new areas to oil and gas varies across the states, with some (e.g., Wyoming) greatly relaxing explicit restrictions, while others (e.g., Oregon) effecting no change at all. These changes are amendments to BLM land-use plans that were put in place in 2015 to help protect the greater sage-grouse, preventing the need to list the species under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The new blog is called BLM Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan Changes: A Recalibration or A Short-Sighted Economic Grab?
Dr. Epanchin-Niell states that much of the rhetoric responding to each new twist in the ongoing sage-grouse saga is polarized and extreme. However, there is much nuance and uncertainty, and depends on how development and protections are ultimately rolled out.
Read the full blog post.