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New Oil and Gas Inventory Puts WY At the Top of the List

November 30, 2006

Cheyenne, WY - Environmental groups are criticizing a new report from the federal government that inventories the nation's oil and gas reserves on federal land, saying it will be used as a tool to reduce or remove drilling restrictions on these lands.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) report states that the potential to develop these oil and natural gas reserves, in Wyoming and across the country, suffers from limited access. Pete Morton, an economist with The Wilderness Society, says the report clears the way for more development at a time when locals have been questioning some of the government's decisions with regards to environmental impacts.

"It's just going on at a very fast pace, and over a large scale, and really outside of local control. I think we need to reign in the oil and gas industry and get a little bit more control over our public lands."

Morton says that some of the Wyoming sites listed as "available" don't make economic sense for taxpayers or nearby communities, and other sites are too environmentally sensitive. He complains that the BLM listed some sites as "available with restrictions," but argues the designation is misleading because industry pressure often leads to lax enforcement.

"There are many stipulations in these oil and gas leases that are intended to protect air, water, or wildlife, but are often waived by the government. Instead, this report assumes that they're almost never waived."

The inventory was required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and supported by the oil and gas industry. It surveyed eleven oil and gas basins from Alaska to the Appalachians and expands on an earlier report published in 2003.

The inventory report is available online at www.blm.gov.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WY